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Smith tours 19th Engineer Battalion Complex, construction nears completion

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By CATRINA FRANCIS
Gold Standard Senior Staff Writer
catrina.s.francis2.civ@mail.mil
This isn’t your dad’s Army. Gone are the old World War II wooden barracks, three-man or open bay areas. Those buildings have been replaced with modern, up-to-date suites.
On Dec. 5, Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith, the Cadet Command and Fort Knox commander, had an opportunity to walk through the new 19th Engineer Battalion complex. Although construction on the complex isn’t complete, Smith had an opportunity to see the Soldier’s new living and work areas.
Terry Durham, the project engineer, said construction began mid-July 2012 and the more than $40 million complex’s construction is scheduled to be complete mid-April. He also anticipates it being done before 19th Engineer Battalion Soldiers redeploy.
“Construction should be able to meet the date for the (advance party return),” explained Durham.
Durham pointed out that the complex as well as the 252-man barracks will have geothermal heating and air. He also said the complex is designed to support five companies.
During the tour Smith asked Durham about water issues that plagued the Warrior Transition Battalion barracks. Durham said that issue was corrected during the building of the new complex.
“(The WTB) barracks had issues with expansion and contraction of water and they were getting leaks every now and again,” Durham said. “We found out the problem had to do with the combination of hard water that we have on post which was basically locking up the mixing valves. Two-hundred-degree water was going into the rooms and it was causing those pipes to contract.
“We were able to replace the mixing valves with stainless steel here and we shouldn’t have that problem at all here.”
Durham said the barracks rooms are two-man suites with separate bathrooms and the Soldiers will share the kitchen area. Each floor in the barracks will have its own laundry room with seven washing machines and 14 dryers which Durham said should support about 80 Soldiers per floor.
“The complex facility is kind of simple (and has) everything a battalion would need to be able to execute the mission,” he said. “(It will also be) a lot easier on the command sergeant major and first sergeant to know where their people are.
“The battalion commander and command sergeant major walked through the site and were extremely happy with it. What they are getting is definitely an upgrade (and) they deserve it.”