ASHLAND – After the March 2019 floods, the Nebraska National Guard’s Camp Ashland Training Site was inundated with five feet of water, damaging 49 buildings and ultimately causing the demolition of 25 buildings.
On Friday, Camp Ashland broke ground on a $35 million training site rebuild where the 2019 floods swept across the campus.
The rebuild will replace 28 buildings that were damaged by the floods and add seven elevated buildings similar to the stilted barracks built in 1996, Col. Shane Martin said during the ceremony. These concrete piers will lift the buildings 12 feet off the ground, putting each building well out of harm’s reach should flood waters threaten again.
There will also be 189 new parking stalls, 20,248 square yards of roads and pedestrian sidewalks and an outdoor physical fitness area, Martin said.
The seven buildings being erected will include a Transient Battalion Headquarters, Battalion HQ Support Facility, Regional Training Institute barracks, general instruction facilities and Training Center Command Headquarters.
These buildings totalling out at about 71,000 square feet and other major updates to the facilities are estimated to be completed by fall 2022, Martin said.
Prior to the ceremony a tour was given to those in attendance showing the different areas of flood damage as well as where some of the new buildings will be located. The tour was led by Martin, Mike Daily, Lt. Col. Scott Snyder and Command Sgt. Dean Reicks. Gov. Pete Ricketts said that the tour showed him the significance of the rebuild.
“We had a chance to go around and see what the (Platte) River did to this place a year ago,” Ricketts said. “It is important that we reinvest because this is a critical facility for our state and for our nation.”
In attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony were several prominent figures in Nebraska government including Ricketts, Sen. Deb Fischer, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry and Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac who all spoke in regards to the project and the work Camp Ashland has done for Nebraska.
In Fischer’s speech, she reflected on why the groundbreaking ceremony is happening and the multi-million dollar damage to Camp Ashland.
“The final tally of $62 million in damage tells you only part of that story,” Fischer said. “You cannot put a price tag on how much last year’s floods disrupted Camp Ashland’s day to day activities.”
Despite the damage, Camp Ashland housed those evacuated from China at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and still does so much for the Nebraska community, Fortenberry said.
“That’s the source of goodness,” Fortenberry said. “That’s a testament to your commitment.”
That community involvement that Fortenberry touched on rang true in Bohac’s speech. Bohac, the adjutant general of the Nebraska National Guard, said the facility was looking dim last year but due to teamwork, Camp Ashland was able to rise again.
“I’m very proud, very proud of the team,” Bohac said. “It is from this place we’re able to do many of those things.”
And with that, the groundbreaking of the training site rebuild began.
“This really is a great day,” Ricketts said. “It represents a continued investment in our Army National Guard and facilities here.”
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