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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Closure of Commissary Could Affect 200,000

August 30, 2000

SANTA ANA — The government's plan to shut down the El Toro commissary in September would affect about 200,000 retired and active military personnel living in the county who would have to drive to Camp Pendleton in northern San Diego County for similar services.

Ken Lee, with the Save the El Toro Commissary Committee, said the Navy's impending closure would affect those who have purchased discount groceries and other goods for decades at the popular commissary.

The former El Toro Marine Air Station is being handed over to the county, which has approved a five-year lease for the 4,700-acre base.

Lee said the committee has scheduled a news conference for today at the commissary.

A Defense Department spokesman for the commissary agency could not be reached for comment.

In recent years, Orange County supervisors have urged the military to keep open the commissary after the base was turned over to the county.

The commissary, available to active-duty and retired military personnel, provides a critical service for veterans on fixed incomes who rely on the base store for discount food, clothing and supplies.

Also on Tuesday, supervisors decided to intervene on behalf of two dozen private nonprofit groups that are facing eviction by the Navy and must pack up and leave the former El Toro Marine base by Thursday.

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