250 military families relocating to Hattiesburg area

By Mike McDaniel - bio | email | Twitter

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Soldiers from across the country, many who have never even been to Hattiesburg, will soon be calling the area home.

"I stand here excited about what we are about to have happen to our community," said Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree.

250 soldiers from bases in New Jersey, Florida and Puerto Rico are part of a relocation plan by the Army National Guard which will move them to Camp Shelby, and with them, come their families. The announcement came from Governor Haley Barbour Thursday morning.

"We look forward to not only these soldiers but their families and having their children in our schools," said Barbour.

Governor Barbour says the Hattiesburg area, as well as state, will benefit greatly from the move, with a spike in home buying, healthcare and culture.

"I consider the military's contribution to our economy to be second only to the military's contribution to protect our freedom," said Barbour.

Under the plan, soldiers will begin the move to the Hattiesburg area in mid-May, all of them should by Mississippians by mid-August. DuPree says the move speaks highly of not only the base, but of the Hub city

"What 250 families will do is help to expand Hattiesburg's presence in the world, and that's a good thing," said DuPree.

Military leaders expect a much better training program because of the move and an increase in jobs on base, making Camp Shelby the Pinebelt's largest employer. Military leaders say that's just a bonus to the overall purpose.

"This move represents for our military an increased force presence so that we can do what, we can respond to whatever challenges come our way in the future," said First Army Division East Commander Major General J. Michael Bednarek.

"Training for soldiers is a hard job and it's a difficult business," said Camp Shelby Base Commander Colonel Steve Parham.

But one state and local leaders hope with jolt the local economy, as Hattiesburg prepares to role out the camouflage carpet.

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