Lacie Lowry, News On 6
BROKEN ARROW, Oklahoma -- The largest Armed Forces Reserve Center in the state opened in Broken Arrow Saturday. It's the last of seven new centers now open in Oklahoma, and it took two years to build.
Governor Mary Fallin spoke at this dedication ceremony on how the center symbolizes that the government is just as committed to the military as the men and women who serve in it.
"We appreciate you. You make our nation and you make Oklahoma very, very proud so this is for you," Fallin said.
Construction of the nearly $65 million facility began in June 2009.
The 260,000 square foot center includes the main building made up of classroom, office, auditorium and equipment space, as well as two freestanding maintenance facilities.
"It's designed to help them make the best use of their time," said Michael Schweiger, 63rd Support Group Commander. "The time that is so precious that they take away from their family and their employer so that they can be ready to defend this great nation."
The center came as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission's restructuring effort. The Penatgon consolidated a number of armories down to only a few.
This new facility will house 100 full-time civilian employees and 1,100 men and women with the Oklahoma Army National Guard and Reservists with the Army, Navy and Marines.
"When you bring military members from the different services together, you actually improve the training that you have for your respective component," said Lt. Gen Harry Wyatt III, Air National Guard Director.
Ninety percent of the work on the center was done by Oklahomans.
"It represents a very significant investment in our state," Fallin said.
The AFRC is expected to have a continued impact on the local economy.
The center has actually been open for two months. For the 3,000 men and women currently deployed with the 45th, they'll get to return to brand new facilities.