VALDOSTA -- With the base realignment and closure list to be released no later than May 16, it is possible that the announcement will come sooner. Officials say the release may be as soon as Tuesday.

Either way, Lowndes County officials say they will be ready to get started on a backup plan for Moody Air Force Base if it should be named for closure. However, local and state officials are optimistic about Moody's future.

"We believe Moody is going to be in very good shape," said County Manager Joe Pritchard. "But whatever the decisions are from Washington, our community is prepared to take the steps that need to be taken."

If Moody is on the list, one of those steps will include forming a local redevelopment authority that will work on a plan for reuse of the base.

While there is no indication Moody will be on the BRAC list, the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee recommends the development of a local redevelopment authority.

"Whatever happens on May 13 or May 16, whether you're on the list or off, there's a number of steps to take," said Micky Blackwell, chairman of GMACC. "If you're off this list, then you're a candidate for growth. You have to show how your community could handle growth if you have to get additional missions."

Even if a base is left off the BRAC list, Blackwell said there is still a

possibility it could later be added.

But in the event that Moody is named for closure, Blackwell said officials need to be prepared to challenge the list.

"The first thing is to challenge it and make sure they used the right assumptions to close the base," Blackwell said. "There's a very short period of time before the community will have to make its presentation to the BRAC committee."

The second step, Blackwell said, is planning and a local redevelopment authority.

"You set up one group to challenge (the list), and another with a Plan B," Blackwell said. "The government has a very rigorous procedure."

John Leonard, executive director of the South Georgia Regional Development Center, said GMACC has advised Lowndes County not to organize a local redevelopment authority until after the BRAC list is published.

"The county will take the lead role on it because they're the ones that have the zoning authority for the facility and of course the SGRDC provide staff assistance to the city and county," Leonard said. "This will be a joint effort between the city and county and the other effective stakeholders in Lanier, Berrien, Hahira and so on. But the lead will be Lowndes County."

Leonard added that after the base closure list is released, BRAC commissioners will make visits to bases to decide who has a chance in being removed.

However, for this round of BRAC, Blackwell said it will be difficult for bases to be removed from the list.

"It's going to be much harder to get off the list this time than it was the last time," Blackwell said. "If you're on the list, there's a pretty good indication you're not going to get off."

Still, Board of Commissioners' Chairman Rod Casey said county officials are prepared if Moody should be named to the list.

"We don't have any of the ideas about the what ifs," Blackwell said. "We got the organization in place if Moody were to come out on the closure list. We're pairing ourselves up according to the battle. It's like preparing for any other economic situation, the whole state is on board in this."

Pritchard added that while officials are prepared for the worst, they expect Moody to have a permanent residence in Valdosta.

"The county feels Moody is well positioned based on its various missions to be an important part of the defense system," Pritchard said. "We have reason to believe that based on statements from Washington."

With mission value as the No. 1 criteria the BRAC commission evaluates, Blackwell said Moody is in a good position.

"We're extremely optimistic about Moody," Blackwell said. "Parker Greene has done an outstanding job of bringing good missions to Moody. They've improved their mission value to the Air Force tremendously, which puts them in a much better situation from the previous BRAC rounds."

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