Thursday, July 15, 2010

COMMENTARY>>Fitness center breaks ground for renovations

By Merri Beall
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The wing kicked off a three-phase project July 9 to renovate the fitness center, which will help better support airmen, families and retirees.

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander, perhaps said it best, “Today we broke ground on a project in support of the best resources we have: our people.”

The men and women of Team Little Rock earned the resources for this renovation garnering $100,000 for their runner-up finish for the Air Mobility Command Commander-in-Chief’s Installation Excellence Award. By showcasing the best use of resources to support the mission, the base impressed Gen. Raymond Johns, Air Mobility Command commander, to the tune of an additional $500,000 grant to finish the fitness center renovation.

The first phase includes new landscaping around the front entrance, consisting of ornamental trees and flower beds - building on to the theme of what Colonel Otey calls “The Natural Base in the Natural State.”

The plans for the new entryway are to replace the current vestibule doors, creating a canopy over a patterned brick-and-concrete sidewalk. Along with trees and flower beds, benches will line the sidewalks. Also included is a sitting and stretching pad in the parking lot entrance median to connect the gym with the parking lot. The construction on the entrance is expected to be completed in December.

The men’s and women’s showers located inside the fitness center will also receive an upgrade. Individual shower stalls will be added in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, and the men’s steam room will be replaced with a dry sauna. The renovations will provide a leak-free, durable and energy-efficient facility. The repairs to the showers are scheduled for completion in January 2011.

The third phase includes the construction of roughly 2,350 feet of new sidewalk and lighting. This will include area lighting, grading, existing soil compaction, four inches of aggregate base and concrete finishing. The community-use sidewalk section of the renovations should be completed in October.

For the men and women of Team Little Rock, these improvements mean a safer and more convenient walk to the fitness center.

“Team Little Rock [members] worked hard to secure the resources through [their] dedication and effort,” said Col. George Coggins, 19th Mission Support Group Commander, referring to the AMC’s second place IEA that provided $100,000 for the projects.

These improvements will help connect the installation and people, further cultivating the sense of community on the base, Colonel Coggins added.

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