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Guard will clear space at Patriot Centre
Training exercise will open up new 75-acre tract

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

A National Guard training exercise slated for June will help clear the way for new economic development in Henry County while saving taxpayer money to boot.

According to Henry County Administrator Tim Hall and county engineer Tim Pace, two National Guard platoons from Fort Pickett will visit the Patriot Centre at Beaver Creek industrial park in Henry County this June to help clear part of an undeveloped 75-acre tract and rough-grade an extension of Beaver Creek Drive.

The first platoon, Pace said, will clear the land during the first two weeks of June, and the second platoon will finish the job during the last two weeks of the month. Combined, the platoons include roughly 150 people, he said.

Hall estimated that by clearing the lots and extending Beaver Creek Drive free of charge, the National Guard potentially is saving the county more than a million dollars.

About two years ago, Hall said, the National Guard contacted the county about clearing Lot 2 at the Patriot Centre, which is across from Bassett Furniture Plant 11 on Beaver Creek Drive.

“In the meantime,” Hall said, “we secured a (federal) grant to grade Lot 2,” and the National Guard project was put on hold. However, Hall said, the lines of communication between the county and the National Guard remained open, and the project is now moving ahead at a different part of the industrial park.

“If they don’t do our project, they don’t have a training project” for the summer, Pace said. “Barring any national security issues, they’ll be here doing this project this summer.”

Hall said the National Guard’s logistics division requires training projects similar to the Patriot Centre project to prepare guardsmen for the land-clearing and development work they must do in the field.

Area residents won’t be seeing any members of the National Guard at local hotels during their stay. For the full training experience, the Guardsmen will camp outdoors at Patriot Centre.

“It’s like any other deployment,” Hall said. “They’ll stay on-site.”

According to Pace, the National Guard will not be doing all of the work to clear the site; the county already has begun clearing timber from the area.

Also, Hall said, the Lynchburg architectural and engineering firm Wiley/Wilson will design and engineer the lots and the Beaver Creek Drive extension. Because the lots are just conceptual lines on a map at the moment, Hall said, it is unclear if the land to be cleared and graded will be one lot or two.

The National Guard, Hall said, will do the rest of the work on the lots, such as removing the stumps after the timber has been cut, clearing brush and grading the lots and the Beaver Creek Drive extension.

“It allows us to get a lot of work done for a minimal investment,” Hall said.

The National Guard is not charging for the service, Hall said, and according to Pace, the Guard will supply not only manpower, but also its own heavy equipment and fuel.

“They understand the magnitude of the project,” Pace said. “Most of these guys do this in their personal lives ... many are equipment operators, engineers or surveyors.”


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