Weeks explains priorities, presents Economic Impact Report at BCC luncheon
By Airman Hannah Bean, 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 18, 2018
COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Nearly 90 members of the local community attended the Base Community Council luncheon Oct. 11 at the Club here.
Col. Samantha Weeks, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, was the keynote speaker for the event. During the luncheon she talked about the importance of a strong base and community connection, explained her new wing mission statement, presented fiscal year 2017’s Economic Impact Report (EIR), and talked about some upcoming events.
“I can tell you that my husband and I and all of the leadership know that Columbus has a great relationship with the air force base,” Weeks said. “We just want to try to find ways to make it even better for the future.”
To enhance that relationship, Weeks said she aims to Cultivate Airmen, Create Pilots and Connect. She said she wants to help Airmen develop and that honest feedback is how this happens. By developing Airmen, it also aids in helping create the next generation of Airmen. Something Weeks said all Airmen, civilian and uniformed, play a role in.
She also emphasized the importance of connecting, and that each squadron should have an understanding of what all the other squadrons do and bring to the mission. The base should also be connected with families and the surrounding community to ensure they understand the wing’s mission, and Airmen should be supporting the community.
The economic impact for Columbus AFB during fiscal year 2017 was $271.2 million. The report was separated into categories of annual expenditures, payroll and indirect jobs. This was a $10.4 million increase from fiscal 2016.
According to the EIR, annual expenditures reflect what the base spends apart from payroll. In fiscal year 2017, $52.9 million went toward construction, contracts, supplies and equipment, and miscellaneous expenditures.
Columbus AFB also has a large population of retired veterans who generated $109.8 million, which is not a part of the $271.2 million produced from the other three categories.
Rufus Ward, treasurer of the BCC, explained how the local community of Columbus, Mississippi, and Columbus AFB benefit from these impacts and interactions.
“It brings the base and the community together,” Ward said. “People here get to interact with community leaders and the community leaders get to find out what’s happening on the base and really learn the contribution that the base is making to the community. It’s a way to learn how we can help each other and really become one family.”
Weeks went on to talk about upcoming events and major events that occurred recently, recognizing the three Columbus AFB Airmen who were honored at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
Weeks also talked Retiree Appreciation Day, which is a big event for local retirees. This year’s appreciation day will be Nov. 9 and retirees will be treated to a tour, lunch and expo offering information on services available to them.
She said they want to ensure that Columbus retirees are supported with base services afforded to them.
Weeks said she looks forward to getting to interact with the community and showcase a few more of Columbus AFB’s Airmen in a more personal approach.