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Drum work benefiting local firms

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FORT DRUM — Some local construction firms are getting big boosts from construction projects on post.

The Army Corps of Engineers awarded more than $172.8 million in contracts for nine construction projects at Fort Drum.

James W. Corriveau, Public Works director at Fort Drum, said he expects many of the construction companies to get shovels in the ground before the end of the year.

Black Horse Group, Green Jacket-DC Building Systems, Purcell-Lawman, Upstate Construction and Vetco Construction, all of Watertown, and Cadence Construction, Black River, were awarded contracts.

Mary Warren, owner and president of Black Horse Group, said she expects to employ 100 people to build a $12.4 million Training Aids Support Center, which will include warehouse and administrative space and four classrooms.

“It’s a really interesting project. The training center will allow soldiers to simulate experiences like when a humvee gets hit by an IED and flips over,” she said. “It will be a green building that is in line with the Army’s new program to build cleaner and greener buildings.”

The training center will be used by all divisions on post.

The Combat Aviation Brigade will benefit from the bulk of additional construction. Nearly $100 million will be spent on projects to update facilities and the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield.

The airfield will be equipped with a new fueling facility with two storage tanks. Upgrades to the bulk fuel facility also will be made.

“We will establish the capability to do hot refueling,” Mr. Corriveau said. “Right now refueling is being done by a truck. With the construction we’ll be able to refuel without shutting down. They’ll be able to turn around training missions more quickly.”

Additional barracks will also be constructed on post.

Currently 7,700 full-time, active-duty soldiers live in barracks on post. Construction projects will create space for an additional 600 soldiers.

Included in the Army Corps awards is the first phase of a six-phase project for the Army Reserve and National Guard. One battalion compound that will consist of battalion headquarters, enlisted soldier barracks that will house up to 700 people, a dining facility, a warehouse, a tactical equipment maintenance facility and storage sheds is expected to be complete by spring 2013.

The Air Force 20th Air Support Operations Squadron, stationed at Fort Drum, will get a new, modern campus including an administrative headquarters. Currently it is housed in old World War II-era wood buildings, Mr. Corriveau said.

“They are going to get a whole lot more space to spread out,” he said.

Projects such as these help boost the local economy. For Mrs. Warren, post contracts have helped her expand her business.

“Fort Drum has been a huge staple for us as a small business,” she said. “They really helped me start and grow my business. It has been a major source of our success.”

A 10th project has yet to be awarded, Mr. Corriveau said. Construction of a live-fire training facility also is expected to be awarded this year.

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