GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE — The skies over Grissom Air Reserve Base have been quieter since June 1 — the day airplanes stopped flying from the military facility after it closed its runway for a 45-day repair project.
But even though aircraft aren’t coming or going, the base is staying busy.
Nearly all of Grissom’s 16 KC-135R Stratotanker planes shipped out to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio just after Memorial Day, but officials say the vast majority of the base’s 1,800 workers remain at Grissom to offer on-the-ground support for military missions.
Only 150 personnel have been deployed to the temporary detachment set up in Ohio to continue flying missions from Wright-Patterson.
“It’s as close to business as usual at the base here,” said Tech. Sgt. Mark Orders-Woempner with Grissom’s public affairs office. “The day-to-day operations still need to continue as normal. Wrenches aren’t being turned here and engines aren’t getting fired up, but everything else is continuing on as usual.”
Business isn’t continuing as usual at Dean Baldwin Painting, though. The airplane-painting company that opened last year inside a renovated hangar near the base hasn’t been able to work a job since the runway closed.
Dean Baldwin Painting CEO Barbara Baldwin said she’s tried to keep workers busy with a number of community projects.
Workers have painted trailers for the local Boy Scout troop and Maconaquah High School band, refurbished a KC-135R Stratotanker at Grissom Air Museum and painted new logos on the Miami County YMCA vans.
But the projects haven’t been enough to keep the around 100 employees at Dean Baldwin Painting working full-time. Baldwin said 13 employees were laid off for the duration of the runway closure, and all the other workers were cut back to a 32-hour work week.