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Category: Local communities

July
15th

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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July
12th

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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July
10th

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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July
9th

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.

“While

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July
1st

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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July
1st

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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    June
    25th

    JBLM to lose a Stryker brigade and more soldiers in coming years

    Joint Base Lewis-McChord will lose about 4,500 positions for active-duty soldiers over the next few years as the Army reduces its overall strength coming out of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a briefing given this morning to Puget Sound congressmen.

    Defense officials today told Rep. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, that the Army plans to deactivate Lewis-McChord’s 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. That unit contains about 4,000 soldiers, about 1,000 of whom are finishing a deployment in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.

    Heck was told the Army also would close or reduce other units at Lewis-McChord. The Army in January released

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    June
    19th

    After mothballing armory, National Guard returning to Pierce County with new readiness center

    4:10 p.m. update: Wait, wait there’s more.

    The state Military Department is budgeting $33.6 million for this project, with the Army setting aside about $27 million and the state contributing $6.6 million.

    These details came to light when State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, called. She helped the state Military Department find the Buckley location and she views the readiness center as a vital addition to that community’s economy.

    “This is so big for Buckley,” she said.

    1:20 p.m. update: The National Guard might select a site outside of Tacoma for the readiness center it plans to build, a National Guard

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