161 ARW breaks new ground in fitness

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Shovels ceremoniously overturned dirt as the 161st Air Refueling Wing officially kicked-off construction of a standalone fitness center, during a groundbreaking ceremony here Nov. 14.

The 2,400 square foot fitness center, which is scheduled to open in approximately six months, will provide Airmen twice the square footage of the existing facility, add daylighting features, industrial architecture finishes, 20 foot vaulted ceilings and reverse osmosis drinking water. Future construction elements will include an audio visual package and an outdoor workout pad that will double the size of the new fitness facility, thereby quadrupling the size of the current facility.

According to 1st Lt. Jonathan W. Stratton, 161 ARW deputy base civil engineer, the base was able to justify building a new facility due to the size of the current fitness center, as it does not have an adequate amount of space to provide all Airmen of the 161 ARW an indoor space to maintain their Air National Guard fitness and weight standards. This presents a safety concern as average summer temperatures exceed 100 degrees.

"This is going to be something that benefits all of us," said Col. Gary Brewer, Commander, 161 ARW. "Fitness is such a huge issue right now, in the Air Force and the Air National Guard, and the current facility is inadequate for the needs of the Airmen. We are going to be able to give the Airmen [of the 161 ARW] a facility they deserve."

The fitness center will be the first-ever standalone fitness center to be built on an Air National Guard base after a base's original construction. The project was originally scheduled for 2016, but through an escalated design schedule of two and a half months and early construction bids, the base was able to secure funding and award the construction project almost two years ahead of schedule.

"We had a vision to make this happen and you wouldn't believe the number of times we were told 'no', 'it's not possible' or 'there's no money', but 1st Lt. Stratton and his team wouldn't accept 'no' for an answer," said Brewer. "They kept pushing and didn't give up, and now we are at this point where we are going to have a phenomenal facility. It's quite an accomplishment."