A crowd of some 100 citizens from Hardy County and the surrounding area gathered Monday to applaud Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and other officials during a symbolic groundbreaking event for the new Moorefield Armed Forces Readiness Center.
The crowd included local residents, members of the National Guard, city, county and state officials, and staff and students from Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College, which hosted the event.
Speakers during the dedication ceremony paid tribute to the National Guard's efforts statewide and around the world, and highlighted the facility, which is already under construction.
Officials take part in Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony for the Moorefield Armed Forces Readiness Center on the campus of Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The new facility will house the West Virginia Army National Guard 157th Military Police Unit. From left are Maj. Gen. Melvin L. Burch, assistant adjutant general for installations and homeland defense for the West Virginia National Guard; Chris Strovel, representative for Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Peggy C. Hawse, representative of U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin; Gen. Allen E. Tackett, adjutant general of West Virginia; Harold Michael, retiring 12-term delegate for District 47; Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin; and Gen. James A. Hoyer, adjutant general of West Virginia.
The new facility will house the West Virginia Army National Guard 157th Military Police Unit.
"This project started with Gen. Allen Tackett, and under his tutelage Gen. James "Jimmy" Hoyer is doing a fantastic job," Tomblin said.
"Also, I would like to recognize Roy Harper, chair of the Hardy County Rural Development Authority; Dr. Chuck Terrell, president of Eastern WV Community and Technical College; and the whole group all working together to make this new facility ... a reality. I know that this is going to be a great facility that we can all be very proud of," Tomblin said.
Rising on the western ridge of Eastern's campus overlooking Corridor H, the 58,520-square-foot facility will house the West Virginia Army National Guard 157th Military Police Unit.
"This represents a crucial upgrade as our National Guard leaders and members continue rising to meet new demands," U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said in a letter read at the event by Brig. Gen. David Buckalew.
Buckalew, a longtime veteran of the Moorefield unit and the newly appointed director of staff for the West Virginia National Guard Joint Diversity Executive Council, said West Virginia's National Guard is second to none.
"That's why we must do everything we can to give you the facilities and resources you need to do a good job at the high standards you set for yourselves. And this facility is a big piece of that effort," Buckalew said.
Rockefeller joined with the late Sen. Robert C. Byrd, and his successor, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., to steer some $20.5 million in federal funds toward the project, which benefited from bipartisan support in Congress.
"This center will provide a model for the continued cooperation between the National Guard and its host communities across the state," noted Chris Strovel, delivering remarks on behalf of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.
Besides supporting the Guard's service missions, Strovel said the new center "will provide a home for Hardy County's 911 service, auxiliary space for Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College and an Assembly Hall for National Guard and public events."
Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, adjutant general of West Virginia, provides overall supervision and management of day-to-day operations for the West Virginia Army and Air National Guard's more than 6,000 citizen soldiers and airmen.
Hoyer thanked the governor for his leadership, and pointed out that while Tomblin was in the state Legislature when there was a big effort to support the National Guard and education efforts - particularly for tuition reimbursement.
"Seventy-eight percent of the men and women in the WV National Guard today either have a technical trade skill or a college degree, or are working on a technical trade skill or a college degree. And having this new Readiness Center here in this setting is truly another step in keeping us at the cutting edge that our nation right now needs for a cost-effective, timely capability that the National Guard provides," Hoyer said.
Several of the speakers listed additional individuals they deemed essential to the achievement of this partnership project, including Moorefield Mayor Gary Stalnaker; Maj. Gen. Melvin L. Burch, assistant adjutant general for installations and homeland defense for West Virginia National Guard; and Hoyer.
More information about the Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College is available at 877-982-2322 or www.eastern.wvnet.edu.