Gates leaders reject Navy’s offer

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 4, 2008

GATESVILLE – Thanks, but no thanks.

That message was conveyed here Monday morning by the Gates County Board of Commissioners in regards to an offer by the US Navy to conduct a “noise level exercise” by ordering its jets to fly low over the Sand Banks region of the county. As it’s well-known throughout northeastern North Carolina, the Navy is looking at five possible locations, including the Sand Banks region of Gates County, to construct an Outlying Landing Field (OLF), a practice facility for US Navy aircraft.

“Personally, I feel this exercise is not a true representation (of the noise levels) since these jets have nowhere to land and take-off during this demonstration,” Commissioner Kenneth Jernigan said. “I would suggest that the Navy save their money and save their time.”

As a board, the commissioners formally responded to the Navy’s offer with a letter, signed by each, to Navy Rear Admiral David Anderson. That letter reads as follows:

“While we appreciate the Navy’s recent offer to demonstrate noise levels by flying jets low over the Sand Banks site, we respectively decline.

“Since the jets cannot practice actual touch and go landings, the demonstration would not convey the accurate noise levels of an OLF. The EIS study is not complete and we are not yet aware of all the detrimental effects the sounds from these jets will have on the people, crops, gardens or wildlife in our community. Many veterans moved here in order to enjoy the quiet and rural setting and still have access to their benefits and medical care, just an hour away. Many of our local veterans suffer from PTSD (Posttraumatic Stress Disorder) and this demonstration could be harmful to them.

“With the high costs of fuel and our current national debt, it would be wasteful to spend taxpayer money on such as inaccurate demonstration.

“As communicated in the past, Gates County remains broadly opposed to an OLF being sited at the Sand Banks site. We hope you will consider our strong opposition as you continue with this process.”