Leaders tout local air station

VIENNA — It’s time for the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to move forward and continue expanding its capabilities, the new commander of the local military installation said.

Col. Daniel Sarachene, who stepped into his post about four months ago, told members of the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee on Friday that the air station in Vienna, where the 910th Airlift Wing is located, has a long history that includes partnering with community groups, organizations and institutions.

The committee convened its first meeting of the 132nd General Assembly at the air station. The discussion focused on the local military installation’s mission and the contributions northeast Ohio is making in aerospace and aviation technology.

“Your presence here demonstrates a commitment by the state of Ohio to this installation, confirming the regional importance of this federal asset,” Sarachene told the committee. “It is my hope committee members, interested parties and the general public garner from this hearing a deeper understanding of the unit’s mission, our role in protecting the homeland and national security, and the partnership capacity of our airmen and women build everyday with the Mahoning Valley.”

State Sen. Sean O’Brien, D-Bazetta, a committee member, said having the meeting at the air station allowed local leaders to showcase the area, “what’s going on in northeast Ohio and the importance of the base to our community as well as how we’re playing an important role in aerospace aviation technology.”

O’Brien noted the collaborative efforts taking place with the local military installation and Youngstown State University and Kent State University.

“In Columbus, they don’t think a lot about northeast Ohio, and they don’t understand how important the base is, not just to our region but to our state and our country’s defense and how partnering with groups involved in additive manufacturing is going to add to that.”

The committee, created by House Bill 292 and signed into law by Gov. John Kasich in 2014, brings together members of the aerospace and aviation community, including industry leaders, military representatives, academic experts and state government officials.

The committee’s goal is to develop a focused statewide strategy uniting segments of the aerospace and aviation community.

O’Brien said the meeting was an opportunity to show the committee how state funding is being put to good use.

“It’s good for them to come here and see what we’re doing, especially when it comes to additive manufacturing, the commitments we have from Youngstown State University and Kent State and local universities and how that collaboration is affecting aerospace technology, how it all works together. It helps to show the important role we’re playing here in northeast Ohio, and it’s a role we’re going to continue to play.

“If they see the money invested is well spent, with collaborations here in our area, and that we’re having a clear and viable result, if they’re able to see that firsthand it makes the industry that much stronger and gives our local businesses an edge up. “

The meeting coincided with a rehearsal preview of this weekend’s Thunder Over the Valley air show.

The state committee toured the base before the session and members were invited to stay afterwards for the air show rehearsal afterwards.

Along with Sarachene, speakers included Maj. Gen. Mark Bartman, adjutant general, Ohio National Guard, Maureen McFarland, senior academic program director, Kent State University’s aeronautics program; Mike Hripko, associate vice president for research, Youngstown State University; George Charles, president/CEO, Hapko Inc.; and John Rossi, president, Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber Foundation.