Take a look back at Franklin County’s history through news and photos that appeared in local newspapers 25, 50, and 100 years ago on March 7th.
25 Years Ago
March 7, 1995 – Tuesday
“Army targeted depot early – Letterkenny ranked lastly”
Chambersburg – Pentagon planners have been looking to possibly close or change operations at Letterkenny Army Depot since at least August, documents now on file with the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission show.
In a briefing for Undersecretary of the Army Joe Reeder on Aug. 8, 1994, top officials were given a long list of Army installations under study for downsizing, including Letterkenny. Among numerous charts presented at that briefing, one ranked Letterkenny last out of four Army depots in terms of military value, according to Army documents.
Three months later, the Army briefers met with their bosses again and presented “High Payoff” closure or realignment candidates. Among them Letterkenny.
And last week, it was official: the Pentagon suggested eliminating 2,090 jobs at Letterkenny as part of the nationwide downsizing. In their documents, Army planners acknowledged that their recommendation countered the 1993 base closure commission’s order to consolidate all tactical missile maintenance at Letterkenny. Under proposed changes, that work would go to the Army depot in Tobyhanna, Pa.
There is “no financial benefit” to grouping the missile workload at Letterkenny, the Army said. One supporting chart listed the “pros” and “cons” of closing both Letterkenny and Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas.
Among the advantages listed for closing Letterkenny:
• Supports the Army’s goal of keeping just three depots open.
• Complies with a recommendation from the Joint Cross-Service Group, a panel of military experts that studied Army, Navy and Air Force depots.
• Significant financial savings, estimated at $118 million annually.
• The work at Letterkenny on the Paladin howitzer will conclude in fiscal year 1997.
Among the disadvantages:
• Downsizing to three depots could be risky in time of war.
• The Joint Cross-Service Group did not consider maintenance needs that would surge during wartime. The savings are not great enough to justify the risk.
• Closing Letterkenny and Red River would create an estimated 46 shortfall for combat vehicle maintenance capabilities during wartime.
• The Letterkenny-Paladin project is a model of Defense Department cooperation with a private contractor.
For the most part, the Army seems to have targeted Letterkenny for downsizing because the installation performed so poorly in a wide-ranging assessment of military value. That assessment included measurements of more than two dozen criteria ranging from the age of the building, equipment and grounds to total maintenance capacity.
Letterkenny’s scores were similar to those of Anniston, Red River and Tobyhanna Army depots in many categories. But the World War II-era plant was hurt, in part, by a high operating and overhead expenses. Letterkenny supporters complain the Army numbers don’t take into account anticipated savings in the years ahead.
50 Years Ago
March 7, 1970 – Friday
“Your Easter Bonnet”
100 Years Ago
March 7, 1920 – Sunday
“LOOK LIKE WINNERS”
Well-Known Men for Delegates in Focht’s District
Republicans in half a dozen counties of the eight in the Seventeenth Congressional District have endorsed Samuel T. Spyker, of Huntingdon, and Milton K. Burgner, of Chambersburg, for National Delegates. It is probable that the remaining counties will line up for them within a week. Both men are widely known, active Republicans and have been long identified with the party.
Announcements that Donald Applby and Guy Aspen, two men with convenient first initials, would be candidates is generally credited to effort made by A. Nevin Detrich, who does not live in the district any more.
Friends of Spyker and Burgner say there is nothing to the contest and that the two A’s will not carry A single county.
Congressman Benjamin K. Focht is expected to be renominated in this district by a large majority.
Benjamin K. Focht
Benjamin K. Focht was born in New Bloomfield, Pennsylvania. He attended Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State College at State College, Pennsylvania, and Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. He established the Lewisburg Saturday News in 1881, serving as editor and publisher until his death. He was a delegate to the Republican State Convention in 1889. He served as an officer of the Pennsylvania National Guard. He was a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from 1893 to 1897, and a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1901 to 1905. He was water supply commissioner of Pennsylvania from 1912 to 1914.
Focht was elected as a Republican to the Sixtieth, Sixty-first, and Sixty-second Congresses. He was unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1912. He was again elected to the Sixty-fourth and to the three succeeding Congresses. He served as Chairman of the United States House Committee on War Claims during the Sixty-sixthCongress, and the United States House Committee on the District of Columbia during the Sixty-seventh Congress. He was an unsuccessful candidate for renomination in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1928, and 1930, and also in 1932 for the unexpired term of Edward M. Beers. After his time in Congress he resumed business activities in Lewisburg. He served as deputy secretary of the Commonwealth in 1928 and 1929. Focht was again elected to the Seventy-third, Seventy-fourth, and Seventy-fifth Congresses and served until his death in Washington, D.C..
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