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910th welcomes Port Authority board to YARS

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 910th Airlift Wing welcomed the Western Reserve Port Authority’s Board of Directors to Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s Community Activity Center for their monthly meeting, July 21, 2021. According to their website, the Western Reserve Port Authority was created in 1992 to operate the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. Using the unique powers granted to port authorities by Ohio law, the WRPA has evolved into a dynamic, multi-faceted agency dedicated to promoting growth and economic development in the Mahoning Valley.

During the WRPA’s board meeting, the organization was welcomed by 910th Airlift Wing and YARS installation commander, Col. Jeff Van Dootingh.

The commander stressed the importance of the relationship between YARS and WRPA, noting that the port’s recent efforts to purchase the land required for the installation’s new front gate project was critical to the military construction project moving forward.

“The port authority is one of those huge partners we cannot do things like this without,” said Van Dootingh. “This project is an example of the fact that I don’t think our installation exists without the port authority and Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport. It is a very important project. We absolutely could not do it without your help.”

It was also highlighted at the meeting that YARS, often referred to as an air base, is an air station. As such, it does not have its own runways or air traffic control capabilities and the installation relies on the port authority’s airport and the FAA tower to provide and maintain those necessary functions.     

Members of the WRPA board agreed with Van Dootingh’s assessment of the symbiotic relationship between the two entities, adding that without YARS, the airport may not exist either.

As part of the board meeting’s agenda, the WRPA board watched a video on the history of YARS and a video highlighting the 910th’s current missions of tactical airlift, aerial spray and agile combat support.

Following the videos, David Christner, the president of the Eastern Ohio Military Affairs Commission and vice president of the Youngstown Air Reserve Base Community Council, briefed the WRPA board about the advocacy missions of EOMAC and YARBCC.

“When you leave here today, I want you to remember four things,” said Christner. “One, YARS employs over 2000 people. Two, YARS is the largest employer in Trumbull County. Three, YARS is the third largest employer in the Mahoning Valley, only behind Mercy Health and Youngstown State University. And, four, YARS had a local economic impact of more than $137 million in Fiscal Year 2020.”

Christner said while it was good that industries have recently committed to build in the Mahoning Valley that it is important to remember that YARS is here today and has been since 1955.

“We need to maintain what we have and continue our efforts to grow YARS for the future,” he said.

Following the board meeting and the briefings at the CAC, the group boarded a bus for a windshield tour of YARS and a walkthrough of one of the wing’s assigned C-130H Hercules tactical cargo aircraft. During the C-130 walkthrough, the group met two aircraft crew chiefs, Tech. Sgt. Dan Clegg and Senior Airman Tony Ganni, both assigned to the 910th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, who talked about their maintenance duties and some of the aircraft’s capabilities. The group also talked with Lt. Col. Jeff Shaffer, the 910th Operations Group deputy commander, about the wing’s airlift and aerial spray missions as well as the aircraft’s capabilities.

By the end of their time at YARS, members of the WRPA said they came away with an even stronger appreciation for the connection between the military installation and the airport.

Anthony Trevena, WRPA chief operating officer said, “The relationship between the airport and YARS is of the upmost importance. We exist for each other and we want to build on that for the future.”