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ISSUE: Governor's military adviser steps down
OUR VIEW: Retired Col. Don Williams is a visionary
The Kentucky Commission on Military Affairs’s activities and involvement has been well documented over the last couple of years. We all know that the commission led the state’s successful effort during the 2005 BRAC when every major state military installation not only survived, but actually gained missions.
What few know is that retired Col. Don Williams of Elizabethtown was the driving force in establishing the commission in 1996, as a non-partisan administrative body of state government in the office of the governor. He drafted the legislation that created the KCMA and he ensured that all military installations in the state were appropriately represented.
Williams served as commission chairman or vice chairman for most of those years. During his Nov. 10 visit to Elizabethtown, Gov. Steven L. Beshear paid tribute to him and announced that, after 14 years, Williams had elected to step down.
In the late 1980s, Williams had the foresight to understand the future value of Fort Knox and its potential as an economic engine in Hardin County and throughout central Kentucky. During the past 14 years, he has led the commission to increased responsibility and success.
The commission is not just about helping the four major military installations in Kentucky — Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, Wendell Ford Regional Training Center and The Bluegrass Depot — and the numerous Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Reserve and National Guard units serving throughout Kentucky. It is about focusing on state, federal and local economic development projects that promote, foster and support economic progress through military presence in Kentucky. Williams has led a very successful effort in that regard.
In these tough economic times, Williams’ leadership and foresight is part of the reason our local economy is better than nearly anywhere else in Kentucky or the region.
Williams also served as vice chairman of the Kentucky state BRAC Task Force and was a founding member of the CORE Committee, formed to assist and represent this area and Fort Knox with our elected leaders in Frankfort and Washington.
As we look toward another BRAC, Kentucky and Fort Knox will fare well because Williams set the conditions for a bright future.
Many of us have good ideas we would like to see enacted. But Williams put his ideas to work. He actually did something and got great results.
We, as a community, owe Don Williams great thanks for his long-time commitment and service.
This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.