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Randolph AFB off 'chopping block' after commissioners acquire land to stop encroachment

Bexar County commissioners are looking for ways to make sure Randolph Air Force Base stays open. The county announced a big purchase Tuesday that accomplished two goals.

Joint Base San Antonio Randolph is one of the largest training grounds in the nation for aviators and pilots. Bexar County commissioners say more than 230,000 training flights are flown out of the base each year.

“It would’ve been a huge loss to us because Randolph is our 6th largest employer,” said Tommy Calvert, Precinct 4 commissioner.

Calvert says for years the Air Force has considered shutting Randolph down and moving its training mission elsewhere. Fellow commissioner Kevin Wolff knows what kind of impact that can bring.

“We lost Kelly Air Force Base in the 90s and that was devastating to us for a while,” said Wolff.

Commissioners say the areas surrounding Randolph are some of the fastest growing spots in the county.

“The liability as people get closer is something that worried the Air Force,” said Calvert.

The county announced on Tuesday morning a purchase that ensures the military’s training mission stays at Randolph and keeps people safe at the same time.

“We’ve acquired about 75 acres of land and Randolph is no longer on that chopping block,” said Calvert.

The county bought land in four areas – at the ends of the runway. The air force believes if an accident were to happen it would most likely be there. The county purchased the 75 acres for just under $11 million.

“This is Military City U.S.A.,” said Col. Lee Flemming, deputy commander of JBSA. We feel it. We appreciate it. On behalf of General Pringle I’d like to say thank you.”

Commissioners say today’s purchase goes beyond San Antonio.

“We are the center for all branches of the military for any medical field,” said Wolff.

With Randolph now remaining open, San Antonio remains a crucial cog in the military machine.

“If you join the military and you’re a medic or a doctor at some point in your career you’re coming here to San Antonio,” said Wolff.

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