60,000 People Moving To Inner Banks Area

Bill Hitchcock

soldier2Military planning force has new director who’s familiar with the task
Sue Book
New Bern Sun Journal

“An estimated 60,000 people have arrived or will be arriving in the area.”

A new director has been hired for the civilian Military Growth Task Force that is helping the region plan for the presence of new military and military-related personnel.

Effective Oct. 19, J. Mark Sutherland of Spotsylvania, Va., a former consultant for the management plan developed by North Carolina’s Eastern Region and the growth task force staff, will lead the group as N.C. Eastern Region vice president and new task force director.

Sutherland, who served as program director for encroachment control planning with Marstel Day consulting firm, replaces former director Thomas Gaskill, who left in June. He will work with the 27-member task force and its staff, including Interim Director Jay Bender from its Jacksonville office.

The seven-county regional task force was formed to help local city and county governments, military organizations, and others affected by the military-related growth at Cherry Point Marine air station, Camp Lejeune, and New River. That includes the 11,477 Marines, most of them already on board, an estimated 13,499 dependents, and ancillary civilian growth. An estimated 60,000 people have arrived or will be arriving in the area.

The task force is now finalizing a growth management plan that is expected to be complete by the end of October.

It has funding in place until the end of 2009, with the expectation of at least a six-month renewal, said John Chaffee, N.C. Eastern Region president.

Sutherland’s salary is set at $130,000 a year in an “open-ended contract with understanding on both sides that it will be continued as long as there is funding,” Chaffee said. “We are cautiously optimistic that OEA (Office of Economic Adjustment) will look favorably on another year of funding to help us look at the magnitude of the impact Marine growth is having on our region.”

“I’m excited about his ability to hit the ground running,” Chaffee said of Sutherland, who coordinated gathering and assembling much of the information in the draft management plan.

Sutherland was dispatched to Eastern North Carolina by Marstel-Day in the summer of 2007 to help organize the task force, which was formally announced in October 2007.

“This undertaking was funded by the Marine Corps,” Sutherland said in his application, and lasted about six months. “Experiences gained through this project included a solid understanding of Eastern North Carolina politics, economics, environmental and infrastructure challenges; local leadership, both formal and informal; and the magnitude of the growth challenges.”

Sutherland led a team of 20 researchers, analysts and administrators working with community leaders and the task force staff in preparing the 800-page draft plan.

Currently a Marine reserves colonel, Sutherland has extensive military and private sector experience in strategic planning, analysis and real estate development, including 20 years as a commercial general contractor and real estate developer. He has a degree in government from Florida State University and an advanced degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

He had command ranks of captain, lieutenant colonel and colonel, and he served as deputy chief of Operations Plans and United States Central Command during operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom (2002-2003).

The task force offices are in Jacksonville, and the force is led by Chairman Mike Alford of Jacksonville and has members from seven counties, including Craven, Pamlico, Jones, Carteret, Onslow, Duplin and Pender counties.

The next full board meeting of the task force is scheduled for Oct. 29 in Jones County.

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Author’s Yougler Profile is at  Bill Hitchcock.

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