Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Army Reserve Buildings Open at Old TNT Site in Weldon Spring

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Army Reserve Buildings Open at Old TNT Site in Weldon Spring

Article excerpt

WELDON SPRING * The Army Reserve officially opened on Thursday a new training complex here on a storied swath of land formerly used as a major production site for TNT during World War II and later uranium-ore processing.

Of the original 17,000 acres that were snatched up by eminent domain during the war effort for Weldon Spring Ordnance Works, about 1,655 acres remain in control of the military. The Army Reserve, composed of citizen soldiers who are often called on to bolster active duty missions abroad, obtained the property 30 miles west of St. Louis in 2004 from Fort Leonard Wood.

The Weldon Spring Army Reserve Center cost $18.8 million. Four buildings off Highway 94 South include 90,000 square feet for maintenance, classroom, office and storage. The project was in the works for about 14 years.

The largest tenant for the complex is B Company 325th Combat Support Hospital. About 200 reservists in the company train to set up 40-bed hospitals in 24 hours and then run them for 72 hours without resupply. Many other reservists train there.

"Any time the public pays a great deal of money like this you need to make sure you get the payout, as I think we will get," said Col. Kelly Snyder, during a tour of the new buildings Thursday. "It's very important for the Reserves to be a ready force."

"Reserves don't have a lot of places like this," said Snyder, who is responsible for several Reserve units based from Missouri to California.

Apart from the buildings, there's access to a rifle range, obstacle course and wilderness area for land navigation and set-up exercises.

"Wish we had this when I was a soldier," George Pugh, 57, a facilities operations specialist for 45 Reserve locations in Missouri and Illinois, said of a maintenance shop that employs about 20 people.

With significant spending cuts coming off long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, small and desolate training facilities are expected to be tapered back to save resources.

"Investing $18.8 million really doesn't sound like cost cutting, but this is the future of the Army Reserves right here," Pugh said of the consolidation.

Though Army Reserve units share a few facilities with the Missouri Army National Guard, which draws military volunteers from within the state boundary, it's not the norm due to command structure and funding streams. …

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