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Army Corps Construction helps revitalize Dover Air Force Base

October 6, 2011

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is giving Dover Air Force Base a major facelift.

The Corps' Philadelphia District is managing a $235-million construction program that has already given the base a host of new facilities, including a new air traffic control tower and a state-of-the-art medical examiner's facility and will soon deliver more.

The District is currently overseeing construction of a new chapel, a new fitness center, a facility to store and maintain aircrew equipment, and a maintenance training facility. This is on top of recently completed construction of the new tower, the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System Facility and a Skills Developer Center among other projects.

"It's fulfilling to see our completed projects making an impact in a number of different ways," said Tom Lavender, Project Manager-Forward for the Philadelphia District. "We've had a large program and helped transform and modernize the base."

The military construction program at the base has been substantial in recent years, partly due to an increased workload from the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005.

The program includes two projects in design phase, seven in construction and a number of facilities that are occupied by customers and going through the financial close out process. The facilities have diverse functions, but all tie in to the base's core missions: Honoring fallen servicemembers and their families; and providing strategic global airlift capability by transporting equipment around the world.

"The state-of-the-art facilities we've built have improved the quality of life for the airmen, increased the efficiencies of delivering cargo to the warfighter, and provided enhanced capabilities to return our fallen heroes and their personal effects to their families with dignity, honor, and respect," said Lavender.

The new chapel center will be vital to the mission of honoring the fallen and their families. The $8.7- million project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2012.

"The chapel will have a large room for up to 100 family members of fallen servicemembers to gather," said Lt. Col. Chip Sturgill, Dover Air Force Base chaplain. "It will also provide a boost to our programs, having more space for Catholic and Protestant religious education."

Sturgill also noted that the facility is in a more accessible location on the base and will help them better cater to servicemembers and civilians.

The Philadelphia District is also constructing a new fitness center in a central location on base. The 58,000 square-foot facility is approximately twice the size of the current one and includes a health and wellness center, two racquetball courts, and a large open gym with basketball courts.

Fitness Center Director Mindy Rolkowski said the new digs will be a vast improvement.

"The fitness center will be wonderful for our customers and our staff -- we're very excited to move in," she said. "The increased space is probably the biggest improvement because it will enable us to run more programs and classes."

Customers will be able to take a wide variety of classes, including healthy eating and smoking cessation in the health and wellness center. Zumba, Pilates and other fitness classes will be offered in the 2200- square-foot group exercise room.

The project delivery team held a groundbreaking ceremony on the $12.8-million fitness center in October of 2009 and is readying it for occupancy in December of 2011.

The Philadelphia District is building several facilities with operational functions. The first phase of the Maintenance Training Facility is nearing completion. It is a $5.5-million dollar facility that will house maintenance training devices such as engines and cockpits that are used for simulation and training.

The Aircrew Flight Equipment Facility is approximately 90 percent complete. When finished, it will store, maintain and issue life-support equipment used by aircrews, including helmets with oxygen masks, individual survival kits, parachutes, and life preserver units.

All total, the military construction program at Dover includes $235 million worth of contracts of projects in design, construction and closeout. Lavender said the program is strong and recent base accolades reflect well on the District.

"Dover Air Force Base won the Commander-In-Chief's Installation Excellence Award in 2008, was runner-up in 2010, and again is in the running for the 2012 award. This is due, in-part, to the outstanding facilities that we provide to the Air Force as their design and construction agent," he said.

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