Senator Blunt updated on 139th Airlift Wing's progress moving base north

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt was in St. Joseph Friday receiving updates on construction projects ongoing at Rosecrans Memorial Airport.

Posted: Nov 3, 2019 10:06 AM

(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) U.S. Senator Roy Blunt was in St. Joseph Friday receiving updates on construction projects ongoing at Rosecrans Memorial Airport.

The construction, part of an effort to move the 139th Airlift Wing further north at Rosecrans, has been ongoing for a few years.

In October, a groundbreaking was held for a new communications facility.

RELATED STORY: 139th Airlift Wing holds groundbreaking ceremony for new communications facility

Sen. Blunt was updated at the new EMEDS Building at Rosecrans Airport.

"Where we have proposed to have our new base, which is where you are sitting now, we believe that's simply put the high ground here at Rosecrans," Colonel Edward Black, Commander of the 139th Airlift Wing, said.

Black says that construction projects for some of the buildings have already been completed.

"We've got about 17, 18 buildings to move and we've built four with two under construction," he said.

The move for the Airlift Wing is in response, in part, to decades of flooding concerns from the Missouri River.

"Our south base has flooded in its past and that's a real danger here," Black said.

Earlier this year, the Missouri River crested twice at high enough levels to cause concern for the Airlift Wing and Rosecrans Memorial Airport. During both flood events, airmen from the 139th Airlift Wing assisted in sandbagging operations.

"We successfully held back the river this spring twice," Black said. "But we'd prefer not to have to do that every year."

Black says that modernizing facilities and providing better security are other reasons that the move to build a new base is happening. And that these improvements will help continue existing, and potentially expanding, operations.

"By virtue of having Russians, 18 allied nations, a bunch of different air crews coming in to train, we need a modern facility to protect that operation and our base on the south," Black said. "Although we are doing a pretty good job, it has some limitations that we can't just get around without a new construction."

This project is receiving support on the federal level of the government.

"None of this happens overnight but I think this is actually happening a pretty good pace," Blunt said.

"I would really like to see this continue to be a base for decades to come," Black said.

Black estimates that the total project for the move of the base will cost $250 million.

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