VING's $25 million HQ project progressing

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ST. CROIX - A bill containing $25 million for construction of a new V.I. National Guard Joint Force Headquarters Readiness Center on St. Croix passed the U.S. Congress earlier this month and has been cleared for President Obama's signature.

"We're excited. We're extremely excited to have our facilities all co-located on a compound here on St. Croix," said Sgt. Karen Williams, V.I. National Guard spokeswoman.

The Joint Forces Headquarters will be constructed at the National Guard facility in Estate Bethlehem, where the Guard's Lt. Col. Lionel Jackson Armory, its Post Exchange and the Property and Fiscal Office already are located, Williams said. That compound also is where the V.I. National Guard Regional Training Institute, currently under construction, will be located.

The funding for headquarters construction is contained in H.R. 6523, the Ike Skelton National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, which passed in Congress last week, according to a statement released by V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen. "I congratulate the V.I. Army National Guard and Air National Guard, their leadership and highly trained staff for their excellent planning and strategic advocacy which has resulted in this high level of funding that will begin to see this and other projects, which are vital to their mission, through to fruition," she said.

The headquarters, once constructed, will provide a centralized location where V.I. Army National Guard and Air National Guard offices will be located.

Currently, those offices are located in cramped quarters at O'Neill's Commercial Center at Five Corners, Williams said.

"As we have grown, our facilities have not grown," Williams said, noting that officials will be happy to have the facilities all located in one military compound.

"We're looking forward to having a better, functional facility and atmosphere to better serve our community and better serve our guardsmen," Williams said. "Our missions are growing and expanding."

The Joint Forces headquarters construction project is currently in the design phase, and it is anticipated that a federal construction contract will be awarded by January 2012, according to the delegate's release.

- Contact Joy Blackburn at 774-8772 ext. 455 or e-mail

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