Houston & Peach

Robins colonel explains base entry signs

A couple of months ago signs went up at the entrances to Robins Air Force Base that read Keep Calm and Airman On.

Col. Jeff King, commander of the 78th Air Base Wing, was among the panel of speakers at Wednesday’s annual State of the Community Luncheon. The first question put to him sought an explanation of what the signs mean.

That simple message, as it turns out, encompasses a lot about what is going on in the nation right now.

King said it relates to many ongoing controversies that spark heated discussion, including the presidential race, police shootings, gay rights, immigration reform and even local issues such as turmoil in the union at Robins. The message, he said, is to focus on the job at hand.

“There are people downrange every single day who rely on the products and services that we provide at Robins Air Force Base,” he said. “So regardless of what’s going on in the world and in our own lives, even though we can’t check all that at the gate, we need to keep calm, airman on.”

That response drew a round of applause.

Perry Mayor Jimmy Faircloth said the city has an ambitious plan to improve city parks, and the first phase alone will cost $2.5 million. The city plans to build a splash pad at Creekwood Park that will cost $257,000 and a network of trails that will connect all of the parks. The city also plans to put a veterans park on Main Street expected to cost $500,000.

“The feedback that we get from the community, from just about all ages, says, ‘We want parks. We want trails. We want places we can go to that are calm,’ ” Faircloth said.

Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker said sales tax collections are running about 12 to 15 percent behind projections. The same trend is going on in other counties in Middle Georgia and elsewhere in the state, he said. He didn’t blame it all on the economy.

“I think internet sales is hurting sales tax revenues for the state of Georgia,” he said. “I think it’s hurting local governments, and I think it’s hurting local business.”

Moderator Larry Walker finished the session by asking each panelist a personal question. He asked King to name his favorite general, and King replied that he had to mention two. One, he said, is retired Army Gen. Colin Powell, and the other is Gen. David Goldfein, the new Air Force chief of staff.

“I’m not just saying that because he’s my boss,” King said. “I worked closely with him in the Pentagon doing some real, real tough budget stuff, and I’ve been face down in the dirt with him in Afghanistan with 122-millimeter rockets coming down at us. I’ve seen the depth of this man’s soul. ... He’s going to do great things for our Air Force, I promise you that.”

Walker also asked for a show of hands of those who had early voted and more than half raised their hands.

Wayne Crenshaw: 478-256-9725, @WayneCrenshaw1