Dole: No OLF support unless public wants it
Senator doesn’t think any proposed N.C. site enjoys ‘broad’ support
By DAN PARSONS, Staff Writer
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said she will not support an outlying landing field anywhere in North Carolina without prior local public support for that location.
Dole repeatedly made that assertion during a conference call Thursday morning. The senator was in Washington, D.C., at the time of the call.
Dole said the Navy has not given people in communities near six newly proposed sites enough information regarding possible economic benefits of an OLF being located in one of those communities. Those sites were unveiled by the Navy and the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources at a September meeting of Gov. Mike Easley’s OLF Study Group in Raleigh.
Two of the new sites are in Gates County. Two sites are in Camden County in the northeast portion of the state. Two other sites are in southeastern North Carolina. They are Angola Bay in Duplin and Pender counties and Hofman Forest, land owned primarily by North Carolina State University in Jones and Onslow counties. At the Nov. 1 meeting of the study group, Navy brass said an OLF would bring at least 52 civilian jobs to wherever the pilot-practice field is located.
Based on a letter from the study group chairman, Sidney Eagles Jr., Easley on Wednesday urged Navy leaders and the state’s congressional delegation to consider expanding the search for an outlying landing field in North Carolina or Virginia. Dole on Thursday struck back at Easley’s urgings, saying Easley chose to work with the Navy in identifying the new sites and that his move to call for more alternative sites was “bizarre.”
Seth Effron, a spokesman for Easley, confirmed Thursday the governor was not directly involved with the selection of the six new sites until their unveiling to his study group in September. DENR Secretary Bill Ross worked directly with Rear Adm. David Anderson, the Navy’s top officer on the OLF project, to identify sites according to Navy criteria, Effron said. Easley’s recent plea for more alternative sites was based on information gathered by the study group since September, Effron said.
Effron said Easley’s urging to Dole and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation is not a plea for more site alternatives but for alternative economic-incentive packages for affected communities.