RH3 Media Hearing Book - June 20, 2005 St Louis, MO Page: 54 of 81
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A military base planning council established by state lawmakers this year will be organized soon
and is expected to establish a local redevelopment authority for the area around Crane, said Lt.
Gov. Becky Skillman, who will lead the council.
Economic development officials and others hope to draw high-tech firms that could provide such
things as engineering support for Crane, where the Navy designs and procures military
equipment, including electronic warfare systems.
In Vermillion County, economic development officials have been planning for years how they
might reuse the 7,000-acre Newport base 30 miles north of Terre Haute as an industrial park; it
has been off the tax rolls for decades.
Jobs already scarce
New jobs couldn't come fast enough to Southern Indiana, where hundreds were lost when the
local KPT Inc. tile factory closed in 2001 and General Electric laid off workers at its
Bloomington plant in March, residents said.
Now, one of the fastest-growing jobs is selling the illegal drug methamphetamine, said Sherry
Benton, bartender at the Spot Lounge in Bloomfield.
"Oh Lord have mercy, there's a big meth problem," she said. "There's nothing for kids to do.
There's no movie theater, no roller rink."
Wilkinson said some have turned to drug dealing because they have no job or money.
"I don't condone it, but when you're destitute and there's no jobs, it can make you do desperate
things," he said.
In Bloomfield, about 46 percent of the jobs are tied to Crane. It's even higher -- 67 percent -- in
the Martin County city of Loogootee, economic development officials said.
But even the base's presence hasn't kept vacant storefronts from dotting the downtowns. In
Bloomfield, the state recently announced it would close the Bureau of Motor Vehicles branch.
"There's just no industry left in Greene County at all," said Basil Bennett, who said at least six
stores have closed since he opened The Dancing Bear antiques store in Bloomfield eight years
Richard Cornett, who has run a barber shop in Loogootee for 35 years, said many of his
customers work at Crane and the uncertainty over their jobs has been trying.
"A lot of people have been putting off building homes around here," he said
Crane is Southern Indiana's second-largest employer, providing the bulk of its jobs in five
counties -- Daviess, Greene, Lawrence, Martin and Monroe -- where the average poverty rate in
2002 was 11 percent overall and 12.6 percent for children younger than 18.
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United States. Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission. RH3 Media Hearing Book - June 20, 2005 St Louis, MO, legal document, November 4, 2005; (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc24404/m1/54/: accessed May 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.