Front Gate Facelift

82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Patrick Doherty shakes hands with Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham outside Sheppard's Main Gate. Demolition is ongoing as part of a $3.5 million project by the city to improve the area.

82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Patrick Doherty shakes hands with Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham outside Sheppard's Main Gate. Demolition is ongoing as part of a $3.5 million project by the city to improve the area.

Demolition continues outside Sheppard's Main Gate as part of a $3.5 million project by the city of Wichita Falls to improve the area.

Demolition continues outside Sheppard's Main Gate as part of a $3.5 million project by the city of Wichita Falls to improve the area.

SHEPPARD AFB, Texas --

Work is moving forward on a $3.5 million project to upgrade the area just outside Sheppard’s main gate, improving force protection, transportation and the overall appearance of the area.

A Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant to the City of Wichita Falls is funding about $1.75 million of the project; the city is providing an additional $1.25 million in economic development funding while the Federal Transit Administration is adding another $500,000.

When completed, the area will include a public transit transfer point, with bus and personal automobile access and parking.

The demolition of the old hotel and apartments that bordered and rose above Sheppard’s fence line will address a longtime force protection concern.

"When the community asked me what I thought a good project would be for the community to pitch in and compete for the Texas DEAG grant, my immediate response was the force protection issues at the main gate,” said Brig. Gen. Patrick Doherty, 82nd Training Wing Commander. “Not only was force protection an issue, but the main gate needed a major facelift and upgrade that both the airmen and the community could be proud of as they enter one of the most important bases in the Air Force--Sheppard is the heartbeat of Airpower."

The city applied for the grant last November and it was approved by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission in December. The city spent the intervening months designing and acquiring the land for the project, according to Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham.

“The first phase of this project includes property acquisition, asbestos abatement and demolition of the substandard structures on the property. That phase is nearing completion and is expected to be finished in two months,” he said. “Most importantly, it will definitely provide improved security from a potential terrorist threat with the removal of these two-story buildings that were very close to the perimeter of the base.  This alone is critical to future missions at Sheppard.”

 

The next phase will move the bus stop currently on Burkburnett Road to this parking area, with a much-improved canopy.

 

"I cannot thank Mayor Barham enough for his leadership and his team's efforts, along with other community leaders, to secure a significant amount of funding from the great state of Texas to ensure Sheppard remains a highly respected Air Force base that sets the standard of excellence for all to see."  

 

The project is just the latest example of the close, 75-year partnership between the local community and the base, the mayor said.

 

“This project will dramatically improve the aesthetics of the entrance to the base for outside visitors, which will show that the city cares greatly about the continued missions at Sheppard,” he said. “It’s just another example of a public-public partnership project that not only the City of Wichita Falls but the men and women of Sheppard can take pride in.”

 

Doherty agreed.

 

“It goes to show you, Wichita Falls' people and the surrounding communities love Sheppard AFB--and we love them right back for taking such great care of our airmen, their families, and the mission we have been given to execute for our country.  This project is a perfect example of the great teamwork we have here.”

 

The entire project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2017.