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m-topnavy Delegation hopes Navy services will outlive base

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m-topnavy Delegation hopes Navy services will outlive base

TOPSHAM — Maine's congressional delegation has asked the U.S. Department of Defense to maintain exchange and commissary services in the Mid-Coast area after the 2011 closure of Brunswick Naval Air Station.
Republican U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins and Democratic Reps. Chellie Pingree and Michael Michaud submitted a letter this week to Michael Dominguez, principal deputy under secretary of defense, explaining that the Mid-Coast region will continue to serve as home to many military personnel.
Approximately 1,600 active-duty personnel and 8,500 military retirees and their dependents will stay within a 20-mile radius of the current exchange and commissary after the base closes, the delegation said.
The commissary and exchange are due to close in March 2011, six months before the scheduled closing of the base. The exchange is located on the base, while the commissary is located at the Navy's Topsham Annex.
"Their selfless service to our nation has earned them commissary and exchange privileges that should not be denied by the end of military operations" at the base, the delegation wrote. "We believe that some form of commissary and exchange privilege must remain to ensure these honorable men and women and their families continue to enjoy the quality of life they have earned."
In certain situations the defense department allows a commissary and exchange to continue operating after a base closes. The delegates said the Mid-Coast area meets the department's stipulations, and pointed out the local active-duty, reserve and National Guard military commands that will remain in the area after the base closes have expressed interest in continued commissary and exchange privileges.
Active-duty and retired military personnel and their dependents can obtain low-cost groceries at commissaries. The exchange sells general merchandise.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.