Tuesday, May 13, 2014

EDITORIAL >> Snub wasn’t Pryor’s fault

Don’t blame Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) for snubbing Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher during President Obama’s visit last week to Little Rock Air Force Base as he toured the tornado damage in Vilonia.

Mayor Fletcher was not invited to the air base, but Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola did wrangle an invitation because somebody at the White House thought LRAFB was in Little Rock. Stodola went along for the free publicity, even if the air base is across the river from Little Rock and his city wasn’t even touched by the tornado.

A Pryor spokesman said Tuesday the senator’s office had nothing to do with the invitation list. All Pryor did was ask the President to visit Arkansas and help with disaster relief in Faulkner, Pulaski, White and Independence counties, where the tornado touched down April 27. The spokesman said his boss was focused on helping storm victims and the White House made the invitations.

Maybe it’s time again to consider renaming Little Rock Air Force Base so presidents and others stop thinking it’s in Little Rock. It’s an easy mistake to make, but, as everyone knows except the White House, the base is in Jacksonville and has been here for a long time.

Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, Pope Air Field in North Carolina and several others are named for officers and airmen, while others are named for prominent local politicians and residents. To avoid confusion in the future and honor someone who was there at its creation, our air base should bear the name of a famous local resident who helped bring the base here 60 years ago.

Kenneth Pat Wilson, who led the campaign to donate land for the air base, including his family’s farm, is worthy of consideration for such an honor. The President and all local mayors would be welcome at the rededication.