Saturday, May 28, 2022 |
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• PMRF funding
Federal funding for the Pacific Missile Range Facility provides a major boost to the economy of the Westside, and helps fuel the economy of Lihu‘e and other commercial areas of the Island.
The base provides jobs to about 1,000 military, civilian and contract employees, and pumps an estimated $130 million annually into the Kaua‘i economy.
The work being done there with advanced radar, missile testing, underwater warfare and other military fields is also putting Kaua‘i on the map in the world of scientific military-based research and development. With the closing of a test range in Puerto Rico in the recent past, and the rising populations in areas where missile tests were once common in the Southwest states, an increased reliance on the wide expanses of the Pacific to the west-northwest of PMRF is also being noticed.
Another aspect of work at the base is what’s known as “dual-use” technology, or items that are developed for the military, but morph into civilian applications. The rapid development of fiberglass and resin technologies during World War II, for example, still benefit surfers today who ride foam and fiberglass surfboards.
Recent news from the office of Sen. Daniel Inouye, one of the most senior senators in Washington, has $30 million for everything from flood control around the base to high-end technology research in the works. The spending is part of the multi-billion dollar defense spending bill that’s moved through the House and Senate in Washington.
Some of the funding allotments would bring $8 million for force protection and base security; $5 million for support of targets for tracking testing; $5 million for sensor work related to missile defense activities; $4 million for the Kaua‘i Test Facility, operated by the Sandia National Labs; and $12.5 million for warning system work at Makaha Ridge on the coast above the Westside.
Additional funding would help keep the pumps going that keep the Mana Plain where PMRF is located from flooding, a job that used to be done in part by the now defunct Kekaha Sugar Co., and National Guard funding for a counter-drug program.
Besides the big blocks of funding coming in to our economy, work at PMRF provides a future for local students interested in high technology, jobs for these youths that might otherwise necessitate a move to O‘ahu or the Mainland. These opportunities bring hope to the Westside, as well as dollars.
A separate subject is the threat of terrorism that has brought changes to base access, and problems to the base commanders who are trying to balance security with public recreation use of the white sand beaches at the base. While the base system isn’t perfect, there is access during the week, something that might not be possible at a base with more sensitive security problems. That’s something the Island should be thankful for.
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