New Army Reserve Center to house 5 units

New Army Reserve Center to house 5 units

December 4th, 2011 by Todd South in News

Sgt. 1st Class Patrick Meadows, left, and Sgt. 1st Class Alex Jones listen to speeches Saturday during the opening ceremony of the Army Reserve Center on Bonny Oaks Drive. Meadows and Jones are members of a local recruiting station and turned out in support of the event.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

FAST FACTS


46,940-square-foot training building

13,585-square-foot maintenance building

$15 million total cost

26 acre site

5 Army Reserve units housed at center:

316th Engineer Company

327th Chemical Company

212th Transportation Company

591st Transportation Company detachment

631st Transportation Company detachment

Source: U.S. Army Reserve 81st Regional Support Command

Soldiers and speakers noted Saturday at the opening of the U.S. Army Reserve Center that the building symbolizes the area's support of military service.

John Dyess, an Army Reserve Ambassador, said the larger disconnect between the American public and military service can be somewhat bridged through local reserve and Army National Guard units.

"We really don't understand what the local reserve and Guard bring to the community ... or, indeed, what their mission is," Dyess said. "This is a way to be community-based, an easier chance for Chattanooga to find out about the military."

About 25 local residents and dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, attended the ceremony at the facility on Bonny Oaks Drive.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Leach, who now is Chattanooga Public Works administrator, connected some of the site's military history with Saturday's event.

He pointed to the former location of Fort Cleburne, within sight of the new reserve center. The fort was named for Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, who housed troops here to protect railways during the Civil War and fought in the nearby Battle of Missionary Ridge.

Just months before the United States entered World War II, the Army bought 8,000 acres, including the site's 26-acre plot, for the Volunteer Ordnance Plant, where it made and stored explosives for the war effort.

Construction for the 46,940-square-foot training building and 13,585-square-foot maintenance building began in September 2009, said Col. Patrick Briley, public works director for the 81st Regional Support Command, which oversees the local reserve units.

Five local units will operate and train there, sharing space with the Tennessee Air National Guard's 241st Engineering Installation Squadron. The Guard unit moved into its buildings on site in November 2010.

The reserve training building has equipment storage areas, a gym, distance learning classroom, cafeteria, office space and a weapons simulator training room.

Capt. Lee Oren Jr. commands the 316th Transportation Company, which will work out of the center.

"The opportunities that are here in regards to computer labs, the quick Internet access, the parking, the close proximity to the interstate itself, is great for soldiers coming from hundreds of miles around coming to the Chattanooga community," Oren said.