Chipping In

Residents of Jacksonville, Ark., about 31,000 strong, tomorrow will present the Air Force with a whopping $5 million check towards the purchase of a new $14.8 million joint education center for nearby Little Rock Air Force Base and the local community. Jacksonville Mayor Tommy Swaim will present the donation to Gen. Arthur Lichte, commander of Air Mobility Command, at a ceremony on the base, according to a release from Little Rock officials yesterday. The citizens of Jacksonville raised the money through a sales tax initiative. “This level of community support is unprecedented,” said Brig. Gen. Rowayne Schatz, Jr., commander of Little Rock’s 19th Airlift Wing, recalling that Jacksonville residents also helped out back in 1951 by putting up $1 million to buy the land on which the base now resides. The Air Force is providing the remaining $9.8 million. The new center, to be located right outside the base’s main gate, will provide higher educational opportunities for the airmen as well as their families, and the local citizens. Its construction is tentatively scheduled to finish by September 2010, said James McKinnie, programs flight chief of Little Rock’s 19th Civil Engineering Squadron. Just last month, Little Rock, a major stateside hub for C-130 transports, transferred from the operational control of Air Education and Training Command’s 314th Airlift Wing to AMC’s 19th AW.