Durbin says Arsenal jobs are safe for now

By:  Marissa Pendergrass

If you work on the Rock Island Arsenal, lawmakers said your job is safe for now. They're trying to protect it from budget cuts.

Illinois Senator Dick Durbin said the US Department of Defense is still trying to figure out where to make cuts. But his plan is to make sure the Arsenal isn't one of them.

Last year lawmakers found out the Arsenal's JMTC was on the chopping block. The center manufactures equipment for the military and businesses in the private sector. With the war in Iraq wrapping up, Durbin said those jobs need to be protected.

"For those who are concerned, we've got to be watchful. We've got to understand the critical importance of the Arsenal to our economy but there is no reason to panic at this moment," Durbin said.

Durbin says to ease tensions, he called Secretary of Army John McHugh for an update.

"I asked him to keep in touch with us, allow us to present our case, which I think is a very strong one for the future of the Arsenal and he said by all means he would do that," Durbin said.

Some Quad Citians said they're hoping lawmakers continue that line of communication because losing jobs on the Arsenal would be devastating.

"You've got thousands of people working over there. So yeah, it'd be really disappointing if it does close down or something even happened over there," said Rock Island resident Angela Hardy.

"It's like we've been there forever. It's historical. It's job security and you know income that people need around here," said Rock Island resident Paula Allen.

But Durbin said now's the time to stay optimistic because local lawmakers will keep pushing for answers.

"We've seen base closures across the country and many things can happen afterwards. Some have been positive, some have not," Durbin said.

Durbin said it will be another 6 months to a year before McHugh is able to make a decision.