Center workers thank Sarbanes for lobbying to keep facility open

June 29, 1993|By Angela Winter Ney | Angela Winter Ney,Staff Writer

The politicians weren't the only ones smiling yesterday at the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Annapolis.

A weekend vote that saved 300 jobs from being transferred to Philadelphia made Dawn Fountin's year, she said.

Her husband, Christopher, an electrical engineer, was one of the NSWC personnel whose jobs were slated to move. The positions were saved by a Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission vote Sunday.

"My husband called me from out of town with the news. He couldn't believe it. He was so relieved we won't have to leave Maryland," Mrs. Fountin said.

Another NSWC employee, Gail Waltemeyer, was among hundreds who turned out yesterday afternoon to wave signs thanking Maryland Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, whose lobbying helped save their jobs.

"I can finally relax -- at least for a few years. I've been praying," Ms. Waltemeyer said. She lives on the Eastern Shore, she said, and if the positions had been moved to Pennsylvania, "I would've had to quit my job."

The center, located across the Severn River from the U.S. Naval Academy, was one of many bases recommended for closure by the secretary of defense. The jobs were to be transferred to Philadelphia and to Carderock in Montgomery County.

As employees waved their thank-you signs, Mr. Sarbanes said he should be thanking them. He said the decision was made in their favor as "a consequence of your actions. It's only because of the high quality of work being done here that we prevailed."

NSWC public works employee Henry Grierson presented Mr. Sarbanes with a thank-you plaque and crowed: "I could've been in a car accident yesterday, and gotten mutilated and the paramedics would've said, 'Why do you have a smile on your face?' "

Base officials and Mr. Sarbanes had argued the research facilities should not be closed because several laboratories, such as the Deep Ocean Pressure Simulation Facility, are impossible to move.

The commission's report now goes to President Clinton and then Congress for approval or disapproval, but not revision.

Mr. Sarbanes concluded: "I was fearful that a tremendous unit put together here would have been broken up. We know the decision brings some stability and peace of mind about your jobs -- so you can get on with life."

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