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    Niagara Wraps Up First Phase of School Construction

    Niagara Wraps Up First Phase of School Construction

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell | Staff Sgt. Anthony Cosentino, a structures specialist assigned to the 107th Civil...... read more read more



    Story by Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell 

    107th Attack Wing Public Affairs

    ROMNEY, W. Va., (June 25, 2018) — More than 30 members of the 107th Civil Engineer Squadron, Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., took park in an Innovative Readiness Training mission at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind, June 10-23, 2018.

    The Air National Guardsmen of the 107th Attack Wing are the first of four rotations working on the eight week project. Open since 1870, the school serves children with numerous disabilities, however it faces certain accessibility issues.

    “The main project is working on Keller Hall,” said Maj. Ryan Forrest, commander of the 107th CES. “With the school being an in-residence school, the kids actually live here during the week.”

    Students attending the school live in dormitory style rooms with semi-private bathrooms. Though some of the facilities need to be brought up the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    “One of the things that has been lacking in this building is ADA accessibility,” said Forrest. “Even though this is a school for the deaf and blind, they have children who have multiple disabilities.”

    A main issue according to Forrest, is those in wheelchairs have problems with egress and access. Of the several projects the Airmen are working on, addressing this is the main project.

    “We are putting handicap access into the main areas,” said Forrest. “From the exterior we are putting in wheelchair accessible ramps, and we are also putting in four bathrooms, one on each floor and in each wing, that will be fully ADA compliant.”

    The work is being done under the IRT program, which is a Department of Defense civil-military partnership that brings aid to underserved communities across the nation. Brought in at no cost to the community, the program also allows the units involved to get valuable training.

    We are getting good AFSC and construction skills training, said Forrest. We don’t have these opportunities during drill weekends because of limited time, said Forrest.

    Training is otherwise in wartime skills, making these deployments for training even more valuable.

    “This is the time we can build our skillset in the trades,” said Forrest. “Also, it’s a big team building opportunity where you can get to know your people on more than just a surface level.”

    This has allowed younger Airmen in the 107th to learn from the more experienced. It also gives some of them a first introduction to the trades.

    “Everyone has been great, I came down without any knowledge in this area,” said Airman 1st Class Brandon Freiburger, a firefighter assigned to the 107th CES. “I was curious about what they would have me do here, and I’ve actually had the chance to work with all the sections within the squadron.”

    For Freiburger, this has turned out to be a big moment for his career in the Air National Guard. Recently, the 107th ATKW lost its firefighter positions as part of its conversion to the MQ-9 Reaper aircraft.

    “I’m going to stay in civil engineering, and right now I’m debating on a job,” said Freiburger. “It’s been nice coming here because I get to see what all the sections do and what those jobs are like.”

    Many were asked to do work that is unfamiliar to them, but that is often the case in construction work. A lot of these Citizen Airmen do similar work in their civilian careers, and know what it takes to finish the project.

    “It’s been hard work, but it’s been good,” said Freiburger. “Everyone has been great to each other and working together well, and coming together to get the mission done.”

    Though as in all things, delays and problems can be unavoidable. Facing setbacks, the 107th came together with the school and the State of West Virginia to ensure work stayed on schedule.

    “Every DFT we go on we face different challenges, but we had outstanding support from the school and the IRT program,” said Forrest. “The school rented some heavy equipment for us to use the first week.”

    No matter the situation, the Airmen always find a way overcome obstacles and accomplish the mission. Once accomplished, the results of eight weeks of work will have lasting effects for the school.

    “I know that when this project is done it’s going to have a profound impact,” said Forrest. “It’s going to have a long lasting affect on the kids that go to the school, people that work at the school and the local community.”



    Date Taken: 06.26.2018
    Date Posted: 06.26.2018 14:43
    Story ID: 282342
    Location: ROMNEY, WV, US 
    Hometown: NIAGARA FALLS, NY, US

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