GENEVA, AL (09/21/2017) (readMedia)-- Governor Kay Ivey presided over a ribbon cutting ceremony at the newly renovated Alabama National Guard readiness center in Geneva, Alabama, at 9 a.m., Sept. 19, 2017. The facility was originally opened in 1956 and had been under renovation since December 2016.
The renovation project is the first of its kind to be completed in Alabama. It was accomplished using federal, state, and local funds to share costs and create savings for the Guard, the state, and local school systems. The Alabama National Guard partnered with state and local boards of education to renovate and expand the facility to meet the needs of a National Guard unit and a new career technical center to serve the Geneva area. By sharing common spaces, such as bathrooms, classrooms, and parking, the partnership enables all the partners to save money in construction and continuing maintenance costs in the future.
"This is a model for what can be done when you think outside the box and break down those barriers, and pledge to work together help our students be better citizens," said Maj. Gen. Sheryl Gordon, the Alabama National Guard's top general.
During the renovation, the facility grew by more than 10,000 square feet. Part of the growth space was paid solely by the school systems and is sole-use for the career tech program, some was paid solely with National Guard allocated funds and will be sole-use for the unit, and some of the space is shared by all.
The partnership between the boards of education and the Guard is a direct result of many meetings and hard work by state legislators, city, county, and state officials, and personnel of the Alabama National Guard. "The way this whole team came together to make this happen is amazing," said Eric Gerritson, economic development specialist for the Alabama National Guard and an integral part of the project.
Governor Ivey showed enthusiasm for the partnership and the training that it allows the career technical center to provide. "Providing workforce training not only creates a positive business climate in Alabama, but also gives our young people hope for a good career. Today, I was proud to see various groups come together to celebrate the opening of Geneva Regional Career Technical Center," Governor Ivey said. "My hope is that this facility shows that partnerships share resources, save money and improve capabilities of all partners. This project is proof that together we can change Alabama for the better and build a better future for our children."
Ivey also presented a plaque to Alabama Representative Donnie Chesteen, house district 87 representative, that represented the Alabama National Guard's 2016 Army Community Partnership award, which was awarded to the Alabama Guard in part due to partnerships with state and local school boards.
The Alabama Army National Guard's Construction and Facilities Management Office plan to work with other local governments in the future to continue with more of this type of project. "We're only limited by our imagination and by the law," said Col. Philip Clayton, Alabama Army National Guard construction and facilities management officer. "We look for effective solutions to facilities that support affordable readiness and support the host community."