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Federal cuts force Camp Merrill to cancel annual open house

POSTED: March 29, 2013 12:04 a.m.

Camp Merrill near Dahlonega has canceled its annual open house and Mountain Ranger Run because of federal budget cuts.

“Camp Merrill and the 5th Ranger Training Battalion appreciate the continued support from the local community and hope that we can continue the open house as an annual event in the future,” Capt. Thomas Shandy said.

Merrill serves as the Mountain Phase of Fort Benning’s Ranger School.

The open house, held at least since the late 1970s, “is a pretty big event we have every year,” Shandy said.

“We open up the camp to the community and put on demonstrations and show the community what we do up here and give them the opportunity to be involved with us just a little bit.”

Last year’s event featured an aircraft flyby and free-fall parachute jump, among other activities.

Also, the Army displayed some of its equipment, including helicopters, night vision devices, weapons and parachutes.

The Ranger Run typically has been held before the open house. Last year’s races started and finished near the Camp Merrill gym, winding through the Chattahoochee National Forest.

The U.S. military was affected by $85 billion in automatic spending cuts, otherwise known as sequestration, that took effect March 1.

The cuts are part of an overall $1.2 trillion, 10-year trim of federal spending.

“There are a few ways in which (sequestration) has affected us,” Shandy said, “but the biggest thing is we’re trying to make sure we minimize anything that is not mission-essential and that we are good stewards of taxpayer money.”


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