U.S. Military To Upgrade CNMI Army Reserve Center, Build Troop Store

$9 million projects on Saipan breaks ground

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, July 12, 2016) – Ninth Mission Support Commander Brig. Gen. Stephen K. Curda on Monday led a groundbreaking ceremony for the revitalization of the Saipan U.S. Army Reserve Center and the construction of a new Army and Air Force Exchange Services troop store in Puerto Rico.

The revitalization project, which includes enclosure in concrete walls and the installation of a typhoon-resistant roof, will cost $7 million, while the construction of a new troop store and the explosive clearance will cost $2 million.

Curda was joined by Lt. Gov. Victor B. Hocog; former Rep. Mike Tenorio, who represented U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Joint Region Marianas Regional Engineer Capt. Stephanie Jones and Army and Air Force Exchange Services Area Manager William “Rick” Fair.

Curda highlighted the two main purposes of the project — safety and more space for the community it serves. The project includes the construction of a 1,200-square-foot, single-bay maintenance building, a 600-square-foot storage building and a break area gazebo.

The upgrading of the troop store, he added, is for CNMI servicemembers, reservists, veterans and their families.

In a statement read by Tenorio, Kilili said there are 4,000 active and reserve servicemembers, retirees and their families who use the troop store “as a reward for their service and sacrifice for our country.”

That community of 4,000, Kilili said, has outgrown the size of the original troop store which has also deteriorated. The servicemembers, the veterans and their families deserve better, he added.

According to Kilili, “We have a small community and the cost of a full-service commissary and exchange here was high. But we kept making the case. And eventually, the [Army and Air Force Exchange Services] board agreed that, whatever the economics, we owe all of you for your service to our nation. And the old exchange store was just not good enough.”

In an interview, Army and Air Force Exchange Services Area Manager William Fair said usually, there would not be a lot of enthusiasm for the project because the return on the investment does not really meet the benchmark.

“But then we also have what we call a service project for an area that really needs that store — even though it may not be a high-dollar store, that community needs that store. That is the bottom-line and that is why we are building it,” Fair said.

He said they also looked at the condition of the 30-year old troop store building which, he added, has already reached its normal life cycle and needs to be replaced.

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