LIMA — The letter-writing campaign to save Lima's tank business is under way.U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, both fired off letters this week in support of the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, and both were joined by some valuable friends.The Ohio legislators wrote in support of the Lima plant as the various legislative committees begin deliberating the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. For the second year in a row, the Army has proposed ceasing procurement of the Abrams M-1A2 tank, putting the Lima plant and its some 1,000 workers at risk. Brown, in a letter to Sens. Carl Levin and John McCain, chairman and ranking member respectively of the Senate Armed Services Committee, repeated the argument made often during the past year — that the Abrams tank is necessary, both for national security and a job provider.“We recognize the need to reduce federal spending and strongly support efforts to rein in the national debt. However, continuing production of the Abrams tank is necessary to maintain ground superiority in our military engagements and ensure that our industrial base is able to meet our national security needs. As a nation we must maintain this capability with the support of our nation's dedicated workforce,” Brown wrote in a letter also signed by Sens. Robert Casey Jr. and John Kerry.Brown, Jordan and the rest of the Ohio delegation worked continually last year to fend off efforts to shutter the Lima facility. General Dynamics estimated it would cost $1.4 billion to restart for a $400 million contract of new tanks once the line is shuttered. Brown said Tuesday, a closure would cost even more in terms of security and jobs lost.“While we were successful in saving the Abrams tank program in 2012, we must continue the fight to preserve the production line in 2013. Ending the Abrams production line would jeopardize our national security, the safety of our men and women in uniform, and the highly skilled workforce in Lima — not to mention that eliminating this program would be more costly to taxpayers than continuing it. That's why I will continue to push to ensure that the Abrams program remains intact in the years to come,” Brown said. While Brown lobbied with his Senate colleagues, Jordan was joining a bipartisan group of 100 House members in making the same case to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. The letter argues that maintaining even limited production would save taxpayers money in the long run.“It is the duty of Congress to make sure our service members have the equipment they need to meet the challenges they face on our behalf. Shutting down our Abrams modernization programs until 2016 conflicts with this duty,” Jordan said Tuesday. “A shutdown would also devastate our industrial base at a time when we need to keep it strong for the anticipated start of M-1A3 upgrades in a few short years. Stopping Abrams upgrades would cost far more money in the long run than it could possibly save in the short term. I am pleased to join a significant number of my colleagues who recognize these facts and agree that the best choice for cost savings is also in the best interest of our national defense.”Politicians are not alone in support for the Abrams program. Earlier this month, United Auto Workers President Bob King wrote the chairmen and ranking members of the House and Senate Appropriations defense subcommittees and House Armed Services Committee in support of keeping the Abrams tank production line open.In the April 4 letters, King said UAW members in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Alabama and elsewhere believe the plan puts at risk the specialized, highly skilled, and highly paid workforce that makes up the armor industrial base of more than 800 large and small critical suppliers around the country and that the plan to end tank modernization puts the armor industrial base in jeopardy and would “result in the loss of thousands” of manufacturing jobs.
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.