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A New Day
by: Sen. Trent Lott       Filed 2/16/07 GCN

     Mississippi is the beneficiary of three far-sighted decisions that signal a new day and strengthen our reputation as a state on the move.  We are transforming into a community better suited for the challenges and opportunity of a new century.

New Contract— I’ve chronicled in this column Mississippi’s budding aerospace industry, and this week we received another affirmation that this industry has a bright future here. 

I recently met with Karl Von Guttenberg, a member of the German parliament and senior advisor to the German Chancellor, about the possibility of the German government selecting a joint venture between Northrop Grumman and EADS, a European aerospace company, to supply an unmanned aerial vehicle to the German military.

Both Northrop Grumman and EADS have new facilities in Mississippi – the former company building unmanned aircraft in Moss Point, and the latter building civilian helicopters in Columbus.  Shortly after my meeting with German officials, the German Government selected the Northrop/EADS venture to produce their “Eurohawk” in Moss Point.

Eurohawk will be a derivative of the U.S. Military’s “Globalhawk” unmanned aircraft which began production last year at Northrop Grumman’s new state-of-the-art factory in Moss Point.  That’s great news for hundreds of Mississippi’s workers who will be building this world-class product.

New Purpose— For decades the residents of Perry County have tried to capitalize on the salt domes near Richton.  Their composition makes them a safe storage site for important resources like petroleum.

U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman came to Mississippi on February 14 to designate the Richton Salt Domes as a preferred location for President Bush’s expansion of the nation’s strategic fuel reserve, which our nation retains for national emergencies like Hurricane Katrina.

Having a site inland in Perry County will help insulate this critical reserve from future hurricanes.  If needed, this crucial fuel can be easily transported to one of the nation’s largest refineries, in nearby Pascagoula, for distribution.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a very important safeguard.  Not only will this facility create new jobs in the Richton area, it also will help protect America’s overall economy and national security.

New Mission — Finally, I want to mention another huge decision that will positively impact our state by preserving 400 current jobs and adding almost 200 new jobs at the National Guard base at Key Field in Meridian.

As many of you know, the 186th Air Refueling Wing was slated to lose its air-refueling mission and its fleet of tanker aircraft due to a decision by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).  Many Mississippi families were worried about the future of the base, but I was committed to finding a new mission for this outstanding, storied unit.

This month, the Pentagon slated the 186th for, not one, but two new missions:  Basing eight new cargo aircraft there, and adding a “warfighting center” to serve the NORTHCOM command.

This was the right thing to do, not just for Mississippi, but for the best interests of America’s defense.  Thanks to the hard work of the late Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery and our Congressional delegation, the Guard facilities at Meridian are first class, and the personnel there are equally impressive.  In fact, just days before the new mission’s announcement, the Meridian Air Guard was given an “excellent” mission readiness rating by the Air Force, reaffirmation of their importance to the military and their vital role in America’s defense structure. 

Indeed a new day is dawning in Mississippi.  We’re taking the vast human and physical resources we have and turning them into strengths that work for the betterment of Mississippi, America and the entire world. 

Senator Lott welcomes any questions or comments about this column. 

Write to: U.S. Senator Trent Lott, 487 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 (Attn: Press Office) or Email

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