Fort Rucker rings in new year with community improvements
Drivers on Fort Rucker navigate Night Hawk Street Tuesday. The road recently reopened after DPW staff replaced a drainage pipe. DPW staff have many road projects in the works in 2010, including the resurfacing of Hatch Road.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Within the past couple of weeks, Directorate of Public Works personnel and contractors worked on numerous postwide projects in order to better care for community members and ensure mission completion, officials said.

"The mission is our focus. A lot of the new facilities support that," said Johnathon Cole, DPW Business Operations Division chief, noting maintenance projects are the garrison's effort to make Fort Rucker the best place to work and live.

Bill Wells, DPW's Contract Management Division chief, said workers are overseeing hundreds of projects, including the construction of several training classrooms at Lowe and Hanchey Army Heliports and Aviation Life Support Equipment classrooms at Hanchey and Cairns Army Airfield.
In addition to Soldiers receiving new classrooms, Fort Rucker Fire Department firefighters benefit from some of the new projects as well. Wells said fire stations and operations buildings at Hunt and Louisville stagefields are nearly renovated. Hunt Stagefield is located between Ozark and Dothan, and Louisville Stagefield is located in Barbour County.

Located in between Elba and Samson, Lucas Stagefield's fire station upgrades just began, and funding for upgrades at Brown and Stinson stagefield fire stations, both in central Coffee County, has been approved.

All of the stagefields have fire stations, but the ones receiving work are old and were in need of the renovations, Wells said.

Fire Chief Steve Collins said many of the buildings are about 30 years old. The renovations will aid firefighters in their efforts to support flight training.

"(Fire equipment) bays are larger. This provides more space for crews to get into their gear prior to an emergency response," he said. "A few of the old stations also have overhead rollup doors that have to be opened manually. The new stations have electric doors that go up faster, which also aids in a faster response."

Collins noted the new stations provide more space for training as well.

U.S. Army Aviation Museum staff also benefits from projects the Fort Rucker command group recently approved. Work will soon begin on the construction of two 16,000-square foot storage buildings behind Braman Hall, museum director Steve Maxham said.

The museum owns more than 100 aircraft stored in the old recycling building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Minute Man Street and in another building on Guthrie Airfield.

The new buildings will give the museum staff permanent structures to house the collection until more room is created to display the items, he said. It also allows staff to better care for the collection pieces.

"The buildings we are in now are totally inadequate. We'll be able to stack them in a manner that makes sense and makes them easier to clean," he said.

Soon, crews will tear down the Guthrie Airfield site in order to build a 620-seat chapel. Maxham added officials also begin using the recycling building soon.

Drivers traveling Fort Rucker's roadways will also benefit from upcoming DPW projects. Construction crews will repave Hatch Road from the Newton Gate to Andrews Avenue. Several of the side streets between Andrews and Fifth avenues will also receive facelifts, Wells said.

While most of the projects are funded through local, Southeast Region Installation Management Command and Army funding, stimulus money from the American Recovery Act provided necessary funds for the side streets resurfacing, Cole said.

Crews also repaired minor damage on Johnson Road due to flooding last month. No installation bridges suffered damage, something Wells attributes to DPW staff members' efforts to keep bridges well-maintained.

During the holidays, DPW staff finished repairs to a drainage pipe on Night Hawk Street. Deterioration of the pipe caused the road to settle, creating a dangerous situation for travelers, Wells said. The road reopened Dec. 23.

Page last updated Thu January 7th, 2010 at 10:34