Sheppard Air Force Base to get stimulus funds

Altus_Sheppard Air Force Base in Altus soon will be getting its piece of the President's economic stimulus package.  The base was notified late last Friday that Congress had approved $7.7 million extra dollars earmarked for reconstruction and repairs to be spread out over eight sites.  It will include repairs on heating and air conditioning, fire suppression systems and hangar doors.

Officials say many workers who open and close hangar doors were thrilled when they heard that repairs were coming.  The doors currently installed date back to 1941, and over the years have received some wear and tear - and, not only for the doors.  Workers such as Tech Sergeant Edwin White have to open and close the doors, and he says the repairs will ease physical strain on personnel, and will improve safety.  "It'll alleviate some of the airmen coming out there and accidentally pushing them off the tracks - where we have to essentially cord off the area because they could potentially fall," he said.

Chief Engineer Doug Jansing says there are even more security risks involved with the hangar doors.  He says the bays need to open and close quickly because having them open too long presents a security risk.  He says there have been times when they've been so badly stuck that manpower was not enough to move them.  "Reports have come to me that they've had to get vehicles on there to pull doors open or closed," he said.

Jansing says there are more benefits than additional security.  "It'll allow us to use the man hours to work on other systems or facilities," he said.  Instead of tugging on 60-year-old doors, workers will be able to use their time more productively.  "You're looking at a good 15 minutes each time as far as throughout the training experience," said White.  "So, we're taking that out of our training time."

Jansing says it probably will take four to six months of labor to complete the work on the tracks of all 10 doors, and the base is waiting for details to be finalized in Washington, D.C., on how the repair contracts can be awarded.  Once that happens, officials say they will be able to open the bidding process.

Count on 7News to keep you updated.