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Program Supports Partnerships Between Air Base, Community - Business Journal

Four collaborative projects between the Youngstown Air Reserve Station and community stakeholders -- including a proposed firearms and safety training center at the Trumbull Campus of Kent State University -- will now move to the next phase following a meeting Thursday at the air base to finalize the plans that have been developed.

The projects were determined through the Air Force Community Partnership Program, which began working with YARS last spring, says Major Tara Richards, a full-time reservist with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. A deputy group commander at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta, Ga., for the civil engineering group, she is serving as a partnership broker for the program.

The proposed firing range and safety training center, which would provide area police and fire personnel a facility to train as well as base personnel, has been discussed over the past five years. With a “push” from U.S. Sens. Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown, is on the Air Force’s integrated priority list, says Col. James Dignan, YARS commander. Features could include a Hogan’s Alley type training facility such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation uses.

Among other ideas being developed are reactivation of a medical training program involving Mercy Health that would provide YARS personnel with real-world experience as opposed to training in simulated situations. “That’s already a done deal. We’re just getting through some bureaucratic hurdles to get that done,” Dignan says. Other projects such as the firing range are longer term.

Initiatives being worked on include educational programs connected with the region's universities and community colleges and blight removal projects in conjunction with the cities of Youngstown and Warren, and organizations such as Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership.

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