Killeen City Council members attended the 60th annual Association of the United States Army Conference in Washington, D.C., and used the opportunity to lobby with congressional staff during the trip.

Officials relayed the needs of the area  in hopes of favorable results for key projects, such as the widening of Central Texas Expressway and adding another runway at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport.

“Certainly, it had worked in the past; we had brought attention to projects that needed to be addressed.”  Councilman Scott Cosper said.  “We have let them know what our concerns are.”

The City’s entourage in late October consisted of City Manager Connie Green, Mayor Tim Hancock and all of the council members except for Juan Rivera, who was representing the city at the Texas Municipal League Conference.

The council visited with congressional staff of Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, Councilman Larry Cole said.

Congressional officials have the ability to influence other organizations such as the Texas Department of Transportation, a key factor that could tie into making U.S. Highway 190 a priority, Cosper said.

“Our legislators are interested in what’s important in Central Texas and we have carried that message to them,” Cosper said.

“It’s not only a priority for the city of Killeen, but it’s also a priority regionally.  I believe when the Transportation (Reauthorization) Bill is passed, we will see them embrace our priorities.”

The city also lobbied for support to get a second runway for the Killeen-Fort Hood airport, which could lead to future opportunities, Cole said.

“The second runway would give us a great deal of possibilities for future growth,” Cole said.

“Part of the Army’s plan is a consolidated package where your support will live and train with your combat elements.  If we can bring a second airstrip, we might be able to bring in an Air Force lift squadron or ground support squadron.”

In October, city was able to secure a $1.8 million grant from the Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.

The grant allows the city to hire 10 new police officers and provides money for three years’ worth of salaries.

Acquisition of the grant took three trips to Washington and talks with various agencies to accomplish, Cole said.

“It keeps Killeen in the forefront of their thoughts, and it, of course, shows our interest in their program and their candidacy,” Cole said.

“You have to strike up a relationship with those people and show an interest , and it’s worth every penny as far as I’m concerned for those visits.”

by Anthony Scott, Killeen Daily Herald