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Project money finally materializes

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

Annual end-of-year straddle funds for MacDill have been something like the proverbial apple in a jar. The monkey can reach in but can't get his hand out as long as he's gripping the apple.

But determination and some good fortune are prevailing and the apple is coming out of the jar, albeit in pieces.

About $5.2 million of $20 million that was in doubt due to budget constraints has come through for MacDill and hopes are high that more will be appropriated for projects ranging from infrastructure improvements to additional office space.

Scott Davis, construction chief for the 6th Civil Engineer Squadron, reports Air Mobility Command has allocated about a quarter of the money designed to get the base through the gap between the end of year and the start of the new funding year, hence the name "straddle" funds. The money will cover three projects.

Some $4.6 million was granted for demolition and construction of a new administration building in the old dorm building 151. The primary occupant will be the Office of Special Investigations, which will use up to two floors of the new building. Some portion of the 6th Air Mobility Wing Contracting Squadron also will make their home there, relieving an overcrowding problem that has become an increasing problem.

AMC also approved $613,000 to convert base fire-alarm transmitters to a new frequency. The conversion to a narrowband frequency was mandated by the Federal Communication Commission, a requirement MacDill was bound to meet one way or the other.

The third project given a green light is construction of baffles and a berm at the second firing range at the south end of the base. Erosion of the berm from weather, particularly the busy hurricane season last year, led to closing the range.

This was the first year civil engineers recall straddle funds, which normally are guaranteed, were threatened but so far at least some of the money is making its way to MacDill and perhaps all will come through, said Mr. Davis.

"It was in doubt for a while and we found out that guaranteed funds are not necessarily (guaranteed)," he said. "It's looking good now and we are hoping for the rest."

Mr. Davis said in addition to the AMC money, his office is busy with about 20 "small projects" to be funding by about $1.7 million in wing funds recently allocated by Col. Maggie Woodward, base commander. The money was not part of the straddle fund but with budget concerns all around, it was not certain many of these small projects would see the light of day this year, either, he said.

Among them was a $176,000 tab covered by the Wing for a new Central Command fire alarm system.

Col. Maggie Woodward allocated the upgrades as a “show of support for our mission partners,” said Michael Cooley, CE chief of plans.

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