Archive for Thursday, February 23, 2006

Colonel talks to business group

February 23, 2006

Historic Fort Leavenworth has been a successful staple of eastern Kansas for over 175 years, and Col. John W. Towers told members of the Lansing business community last week that he had no plans for that to change.

Towers, garrison commander at Fort Leavenworth, spoke in front of the Lansing Business After Hours committee on Feb. 15 at Condotels Clubhouse, 801 W. Eisenhower Road. He touched on the background of the Army post, various management projects it has in store and its impact on surrounding areas.

Towers said the garrison he presides over seeks to "manage Army installations to support readiness and mission execution - provide equitable services and facilities, optimize resources, sustain the environment and enhance the well-being of the military community."

"What we have mirrored is a city management organization," Towers said.

Named after Col. Henry Leavenworth, the post was established in 1827 and is the oldest Army post west of the Mississippi River still in use. It covers almost nine square miles, and the Fort Leavenworth National Historic Landmark District consists of close to 110 buildings. "Only West Point has more," Towers said.

Towers estimated that the post could support a population of just under 100,000 annually. That number includes members of the military and their families, employees of the post, inmates, students, retirees and visitors. This population, he said, directly pours more than $500 million into the area's economies and indirectly impacts the area to the tune of $1.5 billion. The post is believed to be the largest employer in the eastern half of Kansas, Towers said.

The Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth seeks to develop leadership qualities in its students as it provides them with extensive military training.

"We are the intellectual center of the United States Army," Towers said.

The center consists of 16 schools, centers and activities, and it oversees training centers across the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Towers alluded to various construction projects that are scheduled to take place or are under way at the post.

¢ The Lewis and Clark Center, costing $115 million, is scheduled for completion in 2007. The building is slated to become a new academic facility, replacing Bell Hall.

¢ The Battle Seminar Facility is a $14.4 million project that will begin after funding in 2008. It will consist of the renovation of Townson Hall and it will not be completed until Bell Hall is demolished.

¢ A new on-post chapel will be built to replace St. Ignatius Church, which burned down in December 2001. It is designed to accommodate a congregation of 600. It is projected to cost $11.2 million, and construction will begin in 2009.

¢ A School Age Services Facility that will cost $7.4 million is being built to accommodate a growing capacity of children. Its completion date is still to be determined.

Dick Cameron, owner of Dick Cameron Insurance Agency, 612 N. Main St., said Towers was a welcome speaker.

"I thought he brought a spirit of optimism," he said.

- Tom Slaughter is a University of Kansas journalism student and will be contributing this semester to The Current.

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