Breaking ground

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base looks to new entrance

McGhee Tyson Air National Guard Base will soon have a new front entrance.

Construction for a $3.2 million entrance to the base officially began with a March 14 ground-breaking ceremony at the current entrance on Airbase Road. County, state and federal authorities turned out for the event.

Gen. Gus Hargett, adjutant general for Tennessee National Guard, was on hand for the groundbreaking. He praised the local partnerships that made the project possible.

Col. Tim Dearing said when he assumed command of the 134th Air Refueling Wing in February of 2004, he knew immediately he wanted a new front entrance. “My No. 1 priority was to get a new front gate for us. It’s taken three years. For all of you, thank you. It’s going to help McGhee Tyson to grow,” he said.

Dearing recognized former 134th Air Refueling Wing commander Gen. Fred Forster, also CEO and president of the Blount Chamber Partnership. “He’s the one who built this base,” Dearing said. “I’m living his legacy.”

Chris Soro, CEO of C2RL Engineering, coordinated the project that involved purchasing property from nearby landowners and then having property owned by the state quick-claimed to Blount County. “It took a lot of people working hard together to put the property together to make this project work,” Soro said.

The Department of Defense has awarded McGhee Tyson funding to begin improving the entrance to the Air Base. The new Air Base Entrance project is a result of government security standards put in place after 9/11. Improved security inspection areas and pop-up barriers are some of the many improvements to the entrance.

A local company, Blount Excavating and Paving, is contracted to pave a new perimeter road for the surrounding community. The construction project is scheduled for completion on Nov. 18, 2008.

The 134th Civil Engineering Squadron is coordinating with the Blount County Road Superintendent, Army Aviation Support Facility #2, Atmos Energy, City of Alcoa Electric and Water, Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority, FAA, C2RL and residents who live in the immediate area surrounding the base to ensure the project is successful.

Location of the new base entrance will place 119th Command and Control Squadron, Army Aviation and the FAA tower behind the gates of McGhee Tyson ANGB, adding safety and security for these locations.

McGhee Tyson ANGB is home of the 134th Air Refueling Wing, as well as five tenant units: the 228th Combat Communications Squadron, the 119th Command and Control Squadron, the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center, the Academy of Innovative Ministries and the 572nd Air Force Band.

The mission of McGhee Tyson ANGB is to provide air operations and support in response to any call of the military command structure.

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