GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. --
In 1957, while the 319th Fighter Interceptor Squadron F-89J Scorpions
were buzzing over the Hoosier heartland and KC-135A Stratotankers were just rolling off the assembly line, a brand new service club and automotive maintenance building was being built in the middle of the newly opened Bunker Hill Air Force Base.
Over 54 years later the base had a new name, Grissom Air Reserve Base, and roar of the F-89s had been replaced with the sound of fuel-efficient KC-135R
engines, but not much had changed with the vehicle maintenance facility.
In fact, the last and only major modernization work done to the 26,800 square foot facility was completed in 1986 when a high bay addition was added to accommodate larger vehicles.
With the roof leaking, paint peeling off the walls, an out-dated heating, cooling and ventilation system for which there were no longer parts, a full-blown upgrade was desperately needed, said Sue McConnaghy, 434th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle accountability officer.
"The heating and cooling in my office was from the 50s," recalled McConnaghy. "And, when it went out in the winter, the heat went out and it took 2 weeks to get a part."
Grissom leadership decided something needed to be done to repair the facility, which maintains and repairs missions essential vehicles used to maintain the airfield, respond to emergencies, and transport personnel and equipment. So, they began a $3.6 million modernization project last year and opened the facility with a special ribbon-cutting ceremony May 10.
One of the primary goals of the construction was to bring the building up to current construction and fire codes said Wayne Raby, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron base architect.
"We added a new sprinkler system, more roof insulation and a fire-safety wall that brought it up to code," explained Raby. "At one time the electrical system was also creating brown outs, so we updated the electrical system as well and now that's not an issue."
The outdated HVAC system was also replaced and a complete facelift was done to the building's interior.
"We changed the exhaust ventilation system to be more efficient, paved the floor, upgraded the lighting and updated the office facilities," said Raby. "We expanded the communication room and training rooms so they aren't as limited and now they have a better training area, dispatch room and break room."
Perhaps the most noticeable change is in the main vehicle maintenance area where new paint, a new floor and new lighting have drastically changed the work environment.
"In my opinion, the biggest improvement by far is the lighting," said McConnaghy. "You can actually see in the shop, so it's not as dark and gloomy as it used to be."
And a brighter workplace isn't the only upgrade to the facility's lighting system. Great emphasis was placed on making the building much more energy efficient, said Raby.
"The lights now have occupancy sensors, so when no one is in the room, the lights turn off," he said adding that being energy efficient and trying to reduce costs is now how the Air Force does business.
"Everything we did for this project was absolutely necessary to bring the the building up to code," he said. "We didn't do anything more than that."
Even with just taking care of the essentials, several of the building's occupants were overjoyed with the new condition of their old building.
"I'm extremely excited," McConnaghy exclaimed. "I really like my new building, I really do! It's really cool now."
"It's a 110 percent improvement over what we had," she concluded.
The 434th LRS and 434th CES are part of the 434th Air Refueling Wing, the largest KC-135R unit in the Air Force Reserve Command
From its home in North Central Indiana, the 434th ARW and Grissom's tenant units provide a $135 million economic impact to the local community including construction projects.
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