By Rachel Dove
22 MINE ROAD - A groundbreaking ceremony was held Monday afternoon at the James H. Harless Wood Plant Industrial Park on 22 Mine Road, marking the plans to move forward with construction of the West Virginia National Guard’s new Logan-Mingo Readiness Center.
Situated between Mingo and Logan airports, the center will house elements of the West Virginia Army National Guard and support training, logistical missions and emergency response operations in Southern West Virginia.
The scope of the $15.9 million project includes construction of a new 47,000-square-foot Readiness Center and a 3,360-square-foot premanufactured metal storage building. In fiscal year 2010, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall secured federal funding for the planning and design of the facility.
Working with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who was Senate president and state Sen. Truman Chafin, who was majority leader at the time, plans were set in motion that allowed for the construction of the state-of-the-art facility that will greatly enhance and benefit W.Va. National Guard members, and will allow them to better serve the residents who call Logan and Mingo County home.
Several speakers were in attendance at the event, including Tomblin and his wife, Joanne, who is president of Southern West Virginia Community College, representatives from the offices of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, and U.S. Senators Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin. Rahall spoke to the crowd, and shared the following remarks.
“Not since the days of our revolution, have we relied on America’s citizen soldier as much as we have in this current generation. They have fought too many wars on too many fronts on foreign soil and in their own back yards. As a nation, we have asked them to put their careers on hold, their job advancements to wait, their loved ones to be patient, and their little ones to be happy with Skyped images of their heroes across a screen.
“All this, and not a flicker of hesitation, not a hue or a cry has gone up. Many, if not most of the men and women who signed up to serve, got more action than they could have bargained for, yet the job got done abroad. In recent years, Mother Nature has seemingly thrown her worst at us here among the mountains, but our National Guard never failed to answer the call. They got the job done here at home.
“We have stretched their limits, their manpower, their resources, and still they got the job done. We can never, never, never, say thank you enough; but we owe you more than our thanks.
“That is why I fought for and was successful in getting the National Guard a seat at the head table with the Joint Chiefs of Staff. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The Guard was fighting our wars, yet the Guard was not represented in the Joint Chiefs until my bill became law.
“Well, you are represented now and that’s how it should be.
“And when you muster out of your uniformed service to the country, if I have my way, my legislation, endorsed by the American Legion, will ensure your health record in service is complete. So, years later when you develop a health issue, it can be directly traced back to your service history. This legislation corrects an ongoing problem our veterans today have establishing service connection to their current health problems.
“Let us hope we are also wising up to the fact that the training you receive in your service ought to be as seamless as possible when you apply those same skills in civilian life. Mark my words: I am watching the C-D-L program you are initiating here with eagle eyes because we should have been doing it long ago across the country.
“And there is no better opening than that to salute one of your own, General Hoyer. I know why you like him. He’s one of you. And, like you, he has big dreams. The only difference may be that a lot of his dreams are about how to make life better for you and your service to the nation count even more. In my book, the mark of a good leader is that he is always looking two steps ahead for his people. The great leader puts himself, even in harm’s way, a step in front of his people. Major General Hoyer is a good and great leader.
“West Virginia thanks you, General, and looks forward to your continued leadership, vision and compassion for the members of the West Virginia Guard.
“All this is why today is so important. If the Guard doesn’t have adequate resources, you can’t do your job.
“I was happy to earmark federal funding to set the stage for this needed modern facility. You know there are a few members of Congress who want to talk about tea parties more than they want to talk about governing a nation. They have been holding the whole Congress hostage, tying our hands on earmarking projects.
“If it’s OK with you, when I come back to dedicate this new center, I think I will invite my congressional colleagues down to Delbarton so you can show them what readiness looks like. They are fairly new to Congress and they need to learn about taking care of the needs of their constituents.
“For the life of me, I don’t see why these supposed independent spirits would freely put more power of the purse in to the hands of the president. I don’t know about them, but I don’t work for any president. Now I will gladly work with any president if it is in the best interests of West Virginians, and I will just as sure work against them when it’s not good for our state.
“You have my pledge on that and more. I will not put the Guard or our veterans on the chopping block when budget cuts are proposed.
“Mark my word, they will come after you. But I will be there holding up what I consider a sacred contract, America’s promise to you for the best resources, support and cooperation when we give you a job to do. That goes double for when you return to civilian life and need the benefits the country swore they would provide. You have done your part. It’s time America did hers.”
The new facility is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015.