Ravenna's former arsenal on short list for missile defense site

Missile Defense Agency visits Camp Ravenna

RAVENNA TWP., Ohio - Denise Decker said Wednesday that living along the barbed wire fence next to Camp Ravenna, the Ohio Army National Guard's Joint Military Training Center, is often a test of her nerves.

"They do a lot of training. I know that because I can hear the machine guns. A lot of practice, a lot of practice. Basically training. But, that can get quite disturbing, especially if they're training closer. Sometimes it can sound like a third world country. You're like, whoa, whoa, whoa," said Decker.

Something more than training may be on the horizon for Camp Ravenna, according to Lt. Col. Ed Meade, Garrison Commander at the Joint Military Training Center. Meade said the Army's Missile Defense Agency has been looking at several possible sites in recent years for strategic missile defense locations.

"Originally there were 10 possible sites. That list then was reduced to five, then one of those was taken away, so it's now down to four. Camp Ravenna is one of those four. It is now one of those four under Agency study for two years before the results are turned in to Congress. There are no monies yet for any of those sites. They will be looking at everything from local feedback and concerns, to any environmental impact it may have on each area," said Meade.

Military personnel and local politicians held two meetings Tuesday, one for officials, one as a forum open to the public, regarding the possibilities of a missile defense system being installed at Camp Ravenna. The first meeting was attended by City of Ravenna Economic Development Director Kerry Macomber.

"My view on it is that it would actually be a very good thing for the city of Ravenna; With the potential of hundreds if not thousands of jobs that this kind of an operation would create. I have a lot of confidence in our military system and I think all factors will be weighed carefully and they'll make the best decision for us," said Macomber.

"In many ways I feel safer with security being upgraded for such a project, " said Decker. "I'm still not sure if we would be a better target if they put that in there than we all ready are here. If they go we go. We're all right here next to it. But, I guess we would maybe feel a little bit safer. They may already have plenty of that type of thing there already. We just don't know what's back there."

Ravenna resident and mother of two children Shana King said it still sounds a bit scary to think about from a strategic viewpoint.

"I've never experienced any problems with it (the arsenal) before. We like seeing the helicopters and stuff flying around, we just don't know...uh, it's just kind of scary that they would put a missile launch thing here," said King.

Most military experts admit that any military facility is a potential target to a would-be terrorist. Camp Ravenna is not an exception to that in its current use by joint military forces.

The two year study's gathered facts on Camp Ravenna's viability for such a project is due sometime in 2016.

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