News: Dobbins chapel relocates
Story by Senior Airman Elizabeth Van Patten
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. - The Dobbins Air Reserve Base chapel is scheduled to be relocated two miles from its current site to Clay Army National Guard Camp, crossing the Reserve base's runway March 17.
This move was approved by Col. Tim Tarchick, 94th Airlift Wing commander, Feb. 4 as an 11th-hour alternative to demolishing the chapel. This decision followed several days of meetings with his staff, Georgia National Guard staff and members of the Dobbins Chapel Foundation, who raised the funds required to move the chapel at no cost to the government.
"The chapel had been scheduled for demo last month in order to complete a mission essential construction project requiring its removal," said Tarchick. "As a commander, that was probably one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make - knowing the chapel's history - but I knew construction could not be further delayed. However, I am pleased that an alternative solution allowing the chapel to be relocated and preserved was identified."
The mission-essential construction project is a road and parking lot that is to be built on the perimeter of the base to meet post-9/11 increased security and logistics requirements for Air Force assets.
Instead of being demolished, the chapel - occupying 4,000 square feet and weighing 30 tons - will be moved via hydrostatic drive dolly wheels propelled by a John Deere motor. That motor will supply oil to lines connected to six other drive motors, according to Chadwick Hypes, 94th Civil Engineering Squadron project engineer. In order to get the chapel on the dollies, the contractor first had to dig out the foundation and lift the chapel using steel beams.
To the average onlooker, it appeared that the chapel had been jacked up and placed on three sets of tractor-trailer wheels.
"There are a few ways to move a building this size," said Hypes. "Due to the schedule, route, tight maneuvers and elevation change, this method is the most cost effective way. While I have never witnessed the movement of an entire building, the contractor has over 5,000 house moves under his belt."
The move is funded from donations to the Dobbins Chapel Foundation, a private, nonprofit group that has been working to preserve the chapel and its history. The group of retired military members has been working since 2005 to raise the necessary funds.
However, the foundation's task will not end when the chapel crosses the runway.
Once the chapel is relocated to the Clay side of Dobbins ARB, the Dobbins Chapel Foundation will also be responsible for bringing the building up to relevant building codes. Once brought up to code, the Georgia National Guard will maintain the building.
"I would like to thank the Dobbins Chapel Foundation and the Georgia National Guard for coming to the table and working with us to make this happen," said Tarchick. "This is a win-win situation for everyone. The 94th AW is able to progress with our required construction while the chapel and the memory of those it was dedicated to can still be preserved."