By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsOctober 3, 2018
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A more than 10-year old vision became a reality Oct. 2 as the shovels of Fort Rucker, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and contractor construction officials broke ground on the East Beach Lake Lodge and Banquet Facility during a ceremony on the shore of Lake Tholocco.
Getting to the point of breaking ground on the 20-room recreational lodge and 156-guest banquet facility is a story of that vision, and of perseverance, said William "Bill" G. Kidd, deputy to the commanding general of USAACE and Fort Rucker.
While making the lodge a reality was a team effort from a host of people across Fort Rucker, that vision and perseverance belonged to a handful of people, Kidd said, recognizing Tim Laster, former Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Evy Bludsworth, DFMWR chief of support services; and John Clancy, outdoor recreation manager.
"(They) recognized the importance of providing opportunities and recreation for our Soldiers, because that is an integral part of readiness for our families, for our Soldiers and for our units," he said. "It was a vision they weren't going to give up on -- they were not going to give up on our Soldiers and they were going to keep pushing."
He said that his father, an engineer, said that there were three ways that you could traverse a mountain: you could go over it, you could move it, or you could just wear it out. "And, ladies and gentlemen, the Fort Rucker team and the Wiregrass community just wore it out on this one.
"It's a great feeling and well worth the wait," Kidd continued. "It will be a wonderful addition. We're very excited about not just having the building, but what it will bring to our families and our Soldiers as they use this area at Lake Tholocco for recreation."
The facility is expected to be completed in about a year, said Wayne Bardell, director of Fort Rucker DFMWR, adding that he expects the lodge to attract Soldiers from throughout the Army to the shores of Lake Tholocco and all of the recreational opportunities it affords them: boat rentals, swimming beaches with water slides, fishing, hunting and more.
Besides the numerous amenities associated with the lodging and banquet areas, the 16,880-square foot facility will also feature a boardwalk to a 650-square foot landing deck, a wedding gazebo with a wedding area and paver path to the lake and a 4,850-square foot deck overlooking the lake.