Friday, May 29, 2009

New Oregon National Guard construction project to create more than 1,300 jobs

(From left to right) Clackamas County Commissioner Lynn Peterson; Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski; Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, Oregon National Guard Adjutant General; Oregon Senator Ron Wyden; and Brig. Gen. Frank Cipolla, Deputy Commander of the 88th Regional Readiness Command, U.S. Army Reserve, toss shovels full of ceremonial earth at a groundbreaking ceremony for the 41 Infantry Division Armed Forces Reserve Center.

The Oregon National Guard hosted a ceremony today commemorating the construction of a new facility at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore.

The 41 Infantry Division Armed Forces Reserve Center, with a projected cost of more than $74 million, will be the largest facility built by the Oregon National Guard.

The project will generate much needed jobs at a time when the state’s unemployment numbers hover just over 12-percent. Planners say the project will create more than 800 direct construction as well as an additional 525 indirect jobs.

“This (project) will give us 1,300 jobs,” said Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. “It will be an important boost to our state and local economies during this difficult economic time.”

Kulongoski also highlighted the new building as a positive outcome to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, which in 2005, threatened to close the Oregon Air National Guard’s Portland Air Base.

“We need to thank the federal government, and especially Senator Ron Wyden for their work, because this is one of the good things to come out of BRAC,” the governor said.

Majority of the cost for the project is funded through the federal government, with $51 million coming from the National Guard. This includes $1.3 million in stimulus funds for storm water management and $21 million from the U.S. Army Reserve. The State of Oregon will contribute another $2.9 million.

Maj. Gen. Raymond F. Rees, The Adjutant General, Oregon National Guard, said the project has historical significance not only because of its dedication to the famed WWII division, but also because it creates a tangible presence in the local community.

“As I’ve said in the past, we’re not at Camp Swampy, we’re on Main Street,” Rees said. “It’s important we have a presence that the community can appreciate.”

“This building is a brick and mortar representation of what the National Guard is all about,” he added.

Some of the original members of the 41st Infantry Division, stand at attention during a groundbreaking ceremony for the 41 Armed Forces Reserve Center, held at Camp Withycombe in Clackamas, Ore., May 29.

The facility is dedicated to the memory of the 41 Infantry Division and its soldiers—a unit which gained recognition for their sacrifice and service during WWII.

Retired 41st Division member, and WWII veteran, Leland “Bud” Lewis, who trained at Withycombe for driver’s school in the early part of WWII, said the building will carry on the memory of his unit long after the members are gone.

“Sometimes it’s hard to see something you remember a certain way go into history,” Lewis said about his old unit. “But this building will honor the division forever. I’m very proud and privileged to be a part of this.”

Kulongoski said while he was happy to see all the planning and hard work come to fruition, he was saddened that the modern evolution of the 41st Infantry Division, the 41 Infantry Brigade Combat Team, couldn’t be here for the ceremony.

“It’s a little sad that they’re not here because they’re part of the legacy of the 41st Division,” Kulongoski said. “But they’re building upon that foundation.”

Indeed, almost 2,600 Oregon soldiers are currently training at Fort Stewart, Ga., prior to a one-year deployment in Iraq.

When complete, the nearly 250,000 square foot facility will be home to more than 1,300 Oregon Army National Guard soldiers and the United States Army Reserve.

The Governor said partnerships between the National Guard and other organizations are increasingly important. He cited the new armory in Eugene, which is shared by Reserve units and the Marine Corps.

“I think it’s a great way to bring the Reserve and National Guard together,” he said. “It’s an investment in Oregon, and in the readiness for both organizations.”

Barrentine Bates Lee, of Lake Oswego, Ore., began the design work on March 24. Construction of the facility has been contracted with Hoffman Construction Co., of Portland, Ore., and begins June 26, with a completion date of Aug 1, 2011.

Posted by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy,
Oregon National Guard Social Media Manager

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