Meridian Star

April 4, 2009

Harper to make Meridian stop Tuesday

from staff reports

Freshman U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper is on a two-week recess from Washington, D.C.

His mission over the next 14 days: visit his constituents and meet with local leaders throughout the Third District. On Tuesday, Harper will be in Meridian.

Among his stops while in East Mississippi: a tour of Lockheed Martin, a meeting with city and county elected officials at Meridian City Hall, a tour of the Greater Meridian Health Clinic, a tour of the 186th Air Refueling Wing, and a speech at the local G.V. Sonny Montgomery Chapter of the Air Force Association's annual business meeting at Northwood Country Club.

"Spring Recess is one of the first extended opportunities for Congressman Harper to get out to the different parts of the Third Congressional District and visit with his constituents, business owners and leaders of the communities since he took the Congressional Oath of Office in January," said Adam Buckalew, Harper's communications director.

"Congressman Harper is passionate about the military connections and community in East Mississippi and that's why he's set to visit the 186th and with the AFA," Buckalew said.

The AFA event will begin at 5:30 p.m. with a social hour and the business meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. Congressman Harper serves on the House Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on the Budget, and the Committee on House Administration. Additionally, he is a member of the National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus.

The AFA Chapter’s role is to educate the public about the missions of the US Air Force and to advocate for a strong national defense. Specifically, the chapter promotes interest in the missions of the 186th Air Refueling Wing and associated units of the Air National Guard based at Key Field. Congressman Harper will assist in honoring the Outstanding Airman of the Year, the Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, the Outstanding Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year and the First Sergeant of the Year award winners as well as the Charles L. Sullivan Leadership Award nominee from the 186th Wing.

The local chapter sponsors a Visions of Exploration program in four area schools. This is a joint program of the Air Force Association and USA Today Newspaper to stimulate student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Additionally, the local Civil Air Patrol will be recognized.

Congressman Harper will update attendees on efforts to ensure the long-term missions for the 186th Wing and progress being made to secure the $48 million payroll and $88 million economic impact of the Air Guard for the Meridian area. All current members and individuals/businesses interested in membership are invited to attend.