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Letterkenny breaks ground on missile storage and maintenance facility

$11.6 million complex will be 'one-stop shop for (the) Patriot' surface-to-air missile system

$11.6 million complex will be 'one-stop shop for (the) Patriot' surface-to-air missile system

May 29, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- The $11.6 million complex under construction at Letterkenny Army Depot will make the depot a "one-stop shop for (the) Patriot" surface-to-air missile system, Col. Steven Shapiro said.

Shapiro described the planned Missile Monitoring and Certification Buildings as a missile storage and maintenance facility without a comparable facility elsewhere in the country under the U.S. Department of Defense.

"This culminates a labor of love since the 2005 BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure)," said Shapiro, the depot's commander.

He joined Brig. Gen. Genaro J. Dellarocco in breaking ground Wednesday afternoon at the site of the two planned buildings totaling 40,000 square feet in the depot's munitions area. The buildings will be constructed by Lobar Inc. in a manner that will contain any blast mishap, according to depot officials.

"This Patriot missile is a very complex piece of equipment," Shapiro said, jokingly adding that it's much more complicated than a cannonball.

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"If our missiles don't work, we put our troops in harm's way," Dellarocco said.

Patriot missiles are produced by Raytheon Corp. and Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, according to www.army-technology.com., and were used during the 1991 Gulf War and have since been upgraded.

Work done in the Missile Monitoring and Certification Buildings will "ensure our missiles fire every time we press the button," he added.

Shapiro thanked county leaders for going to Red River Army Depot in Texarkana, Texas, earlier this year to talk to employees there about the transfer of missile work to Letterkenny. He said Franklin County Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski, Franklin County Area Development Corp. President L. Michael Ross and Greater Chambersburg Chamber of Commerce President David Sciamanna talked about "what it means to be from Central Pennsylvania and how great life is here."

The result was half of Red River's 120 personnel agreeing to move to the Chambersburg area.

"To get 50 percent commitment is phenomenal," said Dellarocco, project executive officer of missile and space with the Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

Dellarocco talked about a move in his own past in which 5 percent of employees committed to the proposal. He also attributed the Red River commitments to the efforts of Ziobrowski, Ross and Sciamanna.

"Build the facility and they'll come," Dellarocco said. "It's a field of dreams."

Initial work at the facility is expected to begin in October 2009.

Also on Wednesday, depot and community leaders dedicated Building 102 as a training and education center under a partnership with Wilson College. The building, at the intersection of Coffey and Overcash avenues, will allow Wilson College to provide educational opportunities within degree programs not only for Letterkenny employees, but also the general public.

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