The K.I. Sawyer Support Group and Reconversion Authority

Accession Number: M99-03
Collection Number: MSS-62
Volume: 1.5 cubic feet
Inclusive Dates: 1993-1998
Prepared by Robert Hendrikson

Complete EAD finding aid

Historical Sketch:

The federal government announced the closure of the K.I. Sawyer AFB in June, 1993.  In an effort to prevent the closure, local civic leader and banker, Ellwood Matson, formed the K.I. Sawyer Support Group (KISSG) and became the group’s chairperson. KISSG sought to keep the base open by lobbying the federal government’s Realignment Committee headed by Congressman James Courter. KISSG began fundraising and commissioned the National Securities Analysts of Arizona to produce a “White Paper” detailing the disadvantages to base closure. KISSG worked in tandem with local Air Force officials to conduct tours & forums at the base to show individual committee members what the base had to offer, they also encouraged a massive letter writing campaign by local government officials, business owners, and the public at large.

Following the closure of the base, Governor John Engler signed the act that created the K.I. Sawyer Base Conversion Authority and appointed Ellwood Matson as chairperson. The purpose of this group was to work with the Air Force to ease the transition from military to civilian use of the physical base.   As the conversion authority chair Mattson commissioned three major feasibility studies from the Grier Corporation, including one that considered reuse of the airport as a commercial facility.  The Conversion Authority operated for 5 years and relinquished its redevelopment duties to Marquette County in 1998. 

Scope & Content Notes:

This collection covers the period of January through August 1993. It contains the personal files of Ellwood Mattson pertaining to his role as chairperson of both KISSG, & the K.I. Sawyer Base Conversion Authority. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence that documents the group’s effort to save the base. Remaining material includes copies of the laws, studies, reports produced on both sides of the issue, and a sparse amount of administrative records.  A large collection of newspaper clippings document the public face of the efforts made to save K.I. Sawyer from closure.  Missing from the collection are the group’s video & visual presentations.  Also, the collection contains very little internal correspondence between Matson and other members of the group. The processor separated the following three items from the collection for alternate storage: 1) a map of Marquette County; 2) A cassette recording of Chairman Courter of the Realignment Commission; 3) A small box of stickers with the group logo.

Record Series Descriptions:

1. Correspondence

This series documents communication between Ellwood Mattson and various government and private individual involved in base conversion.  The most interesting item in these records is a letter from Revord Law Firm in Munising, detailing a SDI concept that Mr. Revord had patented & was proposing that it be used as a mission for the base. Missing is any correspondence between members of the support group

2. Administrative Records

This record series represents a sparse and sporadic collection of the group’s agendas, minutes, & financial reports. The most interesting item in these records is an expanded list of support group members outside the executive committee.

3. Consulting Groups

This record series documents the relationship between KISSG and two consulting groups hired to produce reports and studies on base reconversion.   The Grier Corporation produced three studies for the Conversion Authority. 

4. Newspaper Clippings

This record series contains local and national news coverage of the efforts to keep K.I. Sawyer open.

Related Collections in the Central Upper Peninsula and University Archives:

  • The Gwinn Area Chamber of Commerce, records, MSS-106
  • The Northern Michigan University K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base Extension Office, records, Univ Series 6