A Save for Willow Grove:

Governor Edward Rendell and the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation have gotten a provisional OK from the Air Force that will convert NAS JRB Willow Grove into a joint interagency base maintained and operated by the state. In a joint statement Friday, Rendell and Sen. Arlen Specter (R) and Sen. Robert Casey (D) confirmed that their efforts coupled with those of Rep. John Murtha (D) and Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D) had persuaded the Air Force to seek OSD approval to take over Willow Grove from the Navy and, in a two step process, lease the facility to Pennsylvania and then transfer ownership to the state. Per BRAC 2005, the Air Force is deactivating the Air Force Reserve’s 913th Airlift Wing in October and will disperse the A-10 aircraft of the Air National Guard’s 111th Fighter Wing by 2010 (a one year reprieve). The 111th FW—sans aircraft—and ANG’s 270th Engineering Installation Squadron are to remain at Willow Grove. The governor and Congressional delegation still are working to find a new mission for the 111th Air Guardsmen, and this latest effort keeps open the possibility of gaining a new flying mission because the state plans to maintain airfield operations.