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Slaughter finds ray of hope in Panetta's planned visit to Falls air base

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Rep. Louise M. Slaughter held a press conference today at Strong Memorial Hospital. Photo by Robert Kirkham / Buffalo News

ROCHESTER -- Rep. Louise M. Slaughter acknowledged Tuesday she is fearful that all of the effort she and other members of Congress previously devoted to saving the Niagara Falls Air Base may be jeopardized by ominous signs that the Defense Department wants to close the sprawling facility.

But just prior to starting a press conference at Strong Memorial Hospital to discuss the broken leg she suffered in Manhattan on April 2, Slaughter said she is encouraged by statements by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta indicating he plans to visit the facility before a final decision is made.

"I've known him...since I first got to Congress, she said. "If he made the commitment to come, he will come, and I think it will help."

She added the fact that Panetta has promised to make such a visit "means we have some hope."

The Air Force has rejected a plan that would have provided a new mission and saved most of the proposed job cuts for a National Guard unit at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

The proposal, from the Council of Governors, was an alternative to the Defense Department's budget plan that would eliminate 845 jobs at the base by stripping the mission of the 107th Airlift Wing, which is stationed there.

--Robert J. McCarthy

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Robert J. McCarthy

Robert J. McCarthy

A native of Schenectady, Robert J. McCarthy came to The Buffalo News in 1982 following a six-year stint at the Olean Times Herald. He is a graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and has been covering local, state and national politics since 1992.

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Tom Precious

Tom Precious

Tom Precious joined The Buffalo News in 1997 as bureau chief at the state Capitol, where he covers everything from statewide politics and state government fiscal affairs to health care, environmental and municipal government matters. Prior to The News, he worked for news outlets in Albany and Washington, DC.

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Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri

Jill Terreri is an Amherst native and has covered politics and government in upstate New York since 2003. She joined The Buffalo News in 2012 and covers City Hall.

@jillterreri | [email protected]


Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski

Jerry Zremski, The Buffalo News Washington bureau chief, has reported from the nation's capital since 1989 after joining The News as a business reporter in 1984. A graduate of Syracuse University, Zremski is a former Nieman fellow in journalism at Harvard University. In 2007, he served as president of the National Press Club.

@JerryZremski | [email protected]

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