News: Panhandle Army Reserve Center holds groundbreaking
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Joel Quebec
BAY COUNTY, Fla. – The community of Bay County, Fla., will be getting a new $6 million Army Reserve center which is expected to be completed by early 2014 and will house three transportation units and more than 100 soldiers.
The 81st Regional Support Command, based at Fort Jackson, S.C., hosted the groundbreaking ceremony, which brought representatives from throughout the Bay County community and the Army Reserve.
Army Reserve Ambassador for North Carolina Johnny Dwiggins, welcomed the guests who included James Waterstradt, the staff representative for Steve Southerland, U.S. Representative for Florida's 2nd congressional district, Bay County Commissioner Guy Tunnell and members of the units that will occupy the facility.
“Unlike the Army Reserve of the past, today’s Army Reserve is truly an operational force,” Dwiggins said in his opening remarks. “We transcend countries and people all over the world.”
He referred to the location as Fort Bay County because “this is going to be home for about 100 soldiers. They will train here, they will serve here and they will stand ready here to defend the freedoms that you and I hold so dear.”
“Bay County has a long and proud history of supporting the military and its personnel,” said Tunnell. “We greatly appreciate your commitment to and defense of our country. I’m proud that the completion of this facility will expand the Army’s mission here in Bay County.”
“We are proud to be a part of this new facility,” Sgt. 1st Class Shelia Florence told the local TV news, WMBB Channel 13 and WJHG Channel 7. “And be able to serve with the residents of Bay County and for them.” Florence is also the unit administrator for the 334th.
After the artist rendering had been unveiled, several Army Reserve leaders and community leaders used gold-painted shovels to break ground during the ceremony, leading the way for a new 17,769 square feet training building, 4,627 square feet maintenance facility and a 458 square feet storage building on the 10.3-acre site.
The three units to move in next summer are the 309th, 334th and 508th Transportation Detachments.