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Groundbreaking launches relocation of North Platte's Nebraska National Guard facilities to Lee Bird Field
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Groundbreaking launches relocation of North Platte's Nebraska National Guard facilities to Lee Bird Field


This wasn’t a groundbreaking involving the breaking of undisturbed ground.

Plenty of earth had been moved at Lee Bird Field’s west end as state and local leaders gathered Wednesday to officially launch a decadelong relocation of North Platte’s Nebraska National Guard facilities to the airport.

Gov. Pete Ricketts; Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general; and Mayor Brandon Kelliher were among those sticking shovels into sand where a $9.3 million, 23,868-square-foot vehicle maintenance shop will be built.

A new readiness center will follow by the end of the 2020s as the Guard moves toward retiring its 1955 armory at 1700 N. Jeffers St., Bohac said in brief remarks.

The 7,000-square-foot armory “was really not going to be sustainable in the long term,” Bohac said. “But there was never any discussion of leaving North Platte.”

He thanked city and North Platte Airport Authority leaders for providing 41 acres so the Guard could build anew at the airport.

“It’s a great example of a local community working together with the state and the federal government to provide the resources to make this happen,” Bohac said.

Ricketts reminded the approximately 50 people at the ceremony of the Nebraska Guard’s yeoman service statewide after 2019’s “bomb cyclone” and the 2020-21 COVID-19 pandemic.

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He said the members of the 1075th Transportation Company, which will occupy the new vehicle shop, have lived up to their motto: “Nothing happens until something moves.”

The Guard’s statewide pandemic response involved delivering 21,000 gallons of hand sanitizer, 1 million gowns, 3 million masks and face shields and 5 million gloves, Ricketts said.

Guard members also staffed 45 mobile COVID-19 testing sites, supported all 19 of Nebraska’s district health departments and delivered more than 67,000 vaccines.

“It’s a pretty impressive track record,” the governor said. The new North Platte shop “will help make sure that going forward, the Nebraska National Guard will be able to continue delivering for the people of Nebraska as they have the past two years.”

Ricketts said he plans to be back to cut the ribbon on the new building, which is scheduled to be finished next summer.

Kelliher briefly called attention to North Platte’s historic support for the military. “We understand the sacrifices you make for us,” he said. “We will always honor you as long as I have this office.”

Bohac agreed, citing both North Platte’s historic World War II Canteen and its summer 2018 revival to feed Arkansas National Guard members returning from summer training in Wyoming.

“We are very excited to be here,” he said.

More by Todd von Kampen

5 enticing looks at North Platte's history

2020 was a year that will make history, but it was also a year for us to reflect on our own local history. Special projects reporter Todd von Kampen shares some of his favorite stories from this year that highlight our past.

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