There was no place to park outside the Liberty County Performing Arts Center Monday night, so community members attending the public listening session with representatives of the Army’s Force Management Office parked on both sides of the road leading back out to U.S. 84.
Inside, the auditorium was filled with scores of people standing in the doorways and hall, hoping for an opportunity to tell the Army why Fort Stewart should not lose any troops.
Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas told the crowd he was humbled by their attendance.
Col. Tom O’Donoghue, Department of the Army Force Management Office, said the Army has conducted economic impact studies on each of the 30 Army communities they’ll visit over the next six months. Each community hosts a post that could lose troops.
He noted that Army is aware a cut in troop strength at Fort Stewart would have a “significant” impact on the community. He then explained that “significant” is the word the Army uses to note that “this is as bad as it gets.”
Members of the community each took turns telling the military leaders about how they support the soldiers and their families. Many of those speaking were political leaders, including city council members, county commissioners, even State Rep. Al Williams. Others wanted to relate their personal experience as former military or military spouses who came to the area and stayed because they wanted to live and raise a family here.