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$16M expansion targets modernization at Letterkenny

Written by Vicky Taylor, Public Opinion Online | Mar 17, 2016 8:19 PM
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Workers from Letterkenny Building 350 listens to speakers during a groundbraking ceremony Wednesday, March 16, 2016. The facility addition will provide space for consolidation of metal cleaning and treatment operations currently performed throughout Building 15, according to LEAD. (Markell DeLoatch, Public Opinion Online)

(Letterkenny Township) -- Letterkenny Army Depot's Col. Deacon Maddox declared Wednesday to be "truly a great day,"  as he stood before a crowd of Army officials and local leaders gathered to break ground for an almost $15 million expansion of the depot's main shop.

The 45,040-square-foot Component Rebuild Facility addition to Letterkenny's Building 350 will house metal treatment and surface preparation operations currently performed inside Building 350. Construction is expected to be completed in 2018.

In his keynote speech for the groundbreaking, Maddox said the new addition is a modernization effort to make those operations - a vital part of Letterkenny's mission - more efficient.

He said adding a world class facility like the rebuild facility means the Army believes in Letterkenny and it's future as part of the nation's defense system. .

"For Pennsylvania, this facility means Letterkenny and the Army is willing to put our money where our collective mouths are," he said.

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., agreed.

"What's taking place here validates what Letterkenny Army Depot is doing , for the Army and for National Defense," he said.

He said the project bodes well not just for Letterkenny but for the community as well, even though it will not necessarily mean more local civilian employees for the depot.

The Component Rebuild Facility will be built at the northeast corner of Building 350 and will house a wash bay, metal treatment tanks, sanding area, blast booths and surface repair areas, all of which support the depot's core missions of repair and recapitalization of Patriot missile systems and associated ground support equipment as well as missions for which the depot has been designated as Center of Industrial Technical Excellence including Route Clearance Vehicles.

The project has been in the pipeline for almost 10 years, something that is not unusual in Military Construction - or MilCon - projects where such a project takes several years of planning an approvals inside the Pentagon.

This particular project originated in 2007 with a goal of improving the work environment at Building 350 by segregating sand blasting, chemical solvent degreasing, steam cleaning, power washing and sanding from other work in the building and putting those functions into a separate facility.

It will add a separate blasting booth that will help eliminate backlogs in cleaning and surface preparation, according to literature supplied by LEAD at the groundbreaking.

Other benefits include consolidating, isolating and controlling hazardous and dustry operations, as well as freeing the main shop space for disassembly, weld and assembly processes.

The new facility will also make it possible for the depot to meet environmental standards more easily, Maddox said.

Damian Bess, the depot's director of public works, said the facility is "a big deal for us, and a sign of the times.

"People are paying more attention to Letterkenny, and that's a good thing," he said.

He said the depot is seeking other projects as well, and two of those are getting attention from the Pentagon right now, although they are both still in the pipeline as far as approvals go.

One would allow Letterkenny workers to repair the current version of Patriot missiles instead of having a defense contractor do the work.

The second calls for building a new,  more secure entrance to the depot's industrial shops.

Ross' organization, FCADC, gave 2 1/2 acres of land just north of the former Gate 6 on Route 997 to the Army in 2010 for that access.

Maddox said there were a number of items in the planning, but nothing has been brought to Congress for approval yet.

Still, the fact they are being discussed is significant, he said.

"They have not been rejected," he said.

Vicky Taylor, 717-262-4754

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between Public Opinion Online and WITF. 

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