There will be some major work done on Fort McCoy in a couple of months. In addition to all the soldiers on site, construction drews will be streaming in. Fort McCoy, in Monroe County, is set to get a $43 million dollar Non-Commissioned Officers Training Academy, something people there have wanted and waited for, for years.
Like a good soldier the World War II era buildings have completed their mission and have gone above and beyond the call of duty. They were built in 1943 meant to last five years.
If you want to be a sergeant or higher-ranking officer in the Army National Guard, Reserve or even some in the full time Army, you have to go through a NCO academy like this.
The 40,000 some officers who have trained at Fort McCoy have earned some extra credit though, by dealing with classroom survival skills.
Sgt. 1st Class Brian Hoffman says they have to alter training schedules sometimes because the heat doesn't work and it gets too cold.
The buildings which were barracks and dining halls for WWII troops are now the spot where the leaders of today learn. But 4,000 officer candidates a year train in 47 different buildings. Buildings instructors say they have to get waivers for because they don't meet current classroom requirements.
Hoffman says, "anytime there are upgrades in technology we have to rig it. It's past the point of being cost-effective."
So for eight years Command Sergeant Major James Radke has been working on a plan to get the NCO academy under one roof and into the 21st century. Radke says, "people will be proud to send their soldiers here."
When the first of three phases is complete, officers in training will move from the not-so-private bunkhouses into a new building with hotel-class private rooms.
Hoffman says the current bunkhouse "keeps the rain off but would be helpful to have better facilities."
Phase 2 and 3 add more clasrooms and a dining hall to the campus. Radke says, "it will be the latest one equal to anything the army has for training institutions."
The old buildings aren't being dismissed, they'll get a new assignment. Crews will transform this field into the fort's vision. Radke adds,
"taxpayers can be proud of the money spent on this organization."
$11 of the $43 million dollars for the project is staying in Wisconsin. TCI Architects/Engineers/Contractors, Inc. a La Crosse firm was awarded the construction bid. Work will start in a couple of months, and finish by 2012.