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Archives: July 2013


JBLM losing one of its team players as Fires Brigade’s Col. Kamper moves on

Col. Ken Kamper doesn’t miss much at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. He’s there when his artillery troops come home from war. He’s there to pay respects when soldiers fall in combat. And Kamper almost always says yes when South Sound communities come looking for an officer in uniform to represent the Army outside the base.

The two-time Iraq veteran who spent eight of the past 10 years at the base south of Tacoma is moving on after two and a half years leading about 2,500 soldiers in the base’s artillery brigade. His 17th Fires Brigade is one of four large Army

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Fox visits JBLM on first “furlough Friday” to question DOD spending on gophers while cutting worker pay

Fox News swung through the South Sound this week to highlight two extremes in military spending here.

On one hand, the Defense Department is cutting pay for 10,000 civilian employees at Joint Base Lewis-McChord by compelling them to take 11 unpaid days off from now until September.

On the other, it’s contributing about $4 million to a habitat preservation effort aimed at protecting several threatened species, such as the Mazama pocket gopher.

“That really makes me mad that they would do that,” said Matt Hines, who

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Federal government steering millions to South Sound to preserve gophers, artillery ranges

An environmental preservation effort aimed at keeping endangered species alive while freeing up the Army to use its valuable South Sound training grounds is receiving a $12.6 million boost in funding from the federal government and nonprofit organizations.

Joint Base Lewis-McChord and its surrounding communities were chosen for a pilot project partnering community organizations with the Defense, Interior and Agriculture departments.

They’ll use the money to buy and preserve land outside the base to protect species such as Mazama pocket gophers, Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies and streak-horned larks. It could be used to purchase and set aside land, or

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More than 800 workers at Washington National Guard facing furloughs

Mandatory furloughs for Defense Department civilian employees are taking a bite out of paychecks on both sides of Interstate 5.

About 850 employees of the Washington National Guard – headquartered at Camp Murray in Lakewood – are scheduled to take 11 unpaid days off from this week through the end of September, just like their counterparts at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on the other side of the highway.

Washington Military Department spokeswoman Karina Shagren said the furloughs will cut into maintenance, training and morale. The Washington National Guard received four furlough exemptions, one of them for sexual assault prevention coordinator.


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Rep. Heck and JBLM commander taking calls this week on furloughs for DOD employees

Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s base commander and U.S. Rep. Denny Heck of Olympia are partnering Tuesday to answer questions about how mandatory furloughs of Defense Department civilian employees will impact military operations in the South Sound.

Heck and Col. Charles Hodges will be available to the public for dial-in teleconference at 7 p.m., Tuesday. The call-in number is (855)-246-7045, ext. 21849.

Heck and Hodges will speak to different questions. Heck, a Democrat, will talk about politics and national budget decisions that are compelling the Defense Department to furlough its civilian employees for 11 days between now and

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JBLM furloughs cutting into training, counseling and more

Unpaid furloughs for thousands of workers at Joint base Lewis-McChord will cause restrictions on Army training and halt the basic administration of running the largest military installation on the West Coast for the next 11 Fridays, according to an operations plan released by the base.

The detailed plan fleshes out statements base Commander Col. Charles Hodges made last month in which he said Lewis-McChord would concentrate its Pentagon-mandated furloughs on Fridays. It shows furloughs cutting access to everything from firing ranges to substance abuse counseling.

“The furlough reduces our ability to support service members, those men and women

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Budget cuts won’t crimp fireworks or annual Freedom Fest at JBLM

Forced federal budget cuts won’t hurt the show at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Independence Day.

Other Army posts all over the country are cancelling annual fireworks displays because of Pentagon belt-tightening driven by the compulsory spending cuts known as sequestration. It’s hard to justify a fireworks show when your scaling back on training and handing furlough notices to your civilian employees.

Lewis-McChord is not among the military installations cutting fireworks this week because it does not rely exclusively on federal funding for its annual Independence Day celebration.  It will host a fireworks display like any other year at

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Madigan furlough schedule closing medical services on different days of the week

“Friday furloughs” are the norm at Joint Base Lewis-McChord this summer, but the calendar is more complicated for the 120,000 people who rely on Madigan Army Medical Center for care.

The hospital plans to carry out its Pentagon-mandated furloughs of civilian employees on different days of the week, shutting certain services on the days they experience the least demand.

Some services will remain open around the clock and all week. They include the hospital’s emergency room and labor and delivery services.

The offices that will close or experience reduced services between Monday, July 8 and Monday, Sept. 30 are:

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