WARNER ROBINS -- Country music singer Josh Turner will headline the 30th Annual Warner Robins Independence Day Concert, one of the last major events for the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, commander of Air Force Reserve Command, unveiled Tuesday the concert performers during a joint news conference at the E.L. Greenway Welcome Center, where Warner Robins officials also announced North First Street was being renamed Armed Forces Boulevard.
Thank you very much for what you do as a community to support us, Stenner said. Now we need to reciprocate just a touch, and we just happen to be able to do that in the Air Force Reserve Command because we do have a band that puts on the Independence Day Concert.
The concert, the citys largest annual event, will be held at 6 p.m. July 2 at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.
Also featured during the concert will be Angie Johnson, who was on Team Cee Lo on the second season of the television show The Voice and served for a short time at Robins Air Force Base.
The Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, based at Robins, is being deactivated as part of Department of Defense budget cuts. The band has coordinated the concert since it began, and its uncertain what will come of the event in the future, said spokesman Philip Rhodes of Air Force Reserve Command.
The United States Air Force Band of the West, from Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, will take over Air Force Reserve band performances.
Rhodes said the about 35 band members will be reassigned to other Air Force bands beginning June 2013, so there just may be some members around for an event next year.
If the Air Force goes ahead with its plans, that does not necessarily mean we wont have a band here, Rhodes said. We cant say how in the future that will impact our Independence Day Concert.
A new name for a new image
The concert appeared to play second-fiddle to the renaming of North First Street at the news conference, as Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen conducted a full-fledged council meeting on the windy entrance of the welcome center.
Shaheen said the streets new name of Armed Forces Boulevard honors the base.
This is the most historic event since Mayor Boss Watson and his council changed the name of our city from Wellston to Warner Robins, Shaheen said. It was the first street that was dedicated to Warner Robins, and its the closest link we have to Robins.
Now the location of the citys new law enforcement center, the street once had a bad rap as being crime-ridden. Shaheen said the city is working with area businesses to revitalize this end of town.
The street renaming is among several efforts the city has made to redevelop the east portion of Watson Boulevard, which includes City Hall and Commercial Circle.
The Redevelopment Agency board is working to create tax allocation districts, which help spark development in the area and allows the city to reap the increased tax value of the previously blighted properties. Gary Lee, executive director of the RDA, has talked about naming the area Government Corridor, though it is not official.