National Guard faces project delay

VIENNA – Federal funding on the proposed National Guard readiness center at West Virginia University at Parkersburg may not be available for more than four years, the college’s Board of Governors was told Wednesday evening.

Joe Campbell of the college’s Guard Readiness Center Liaison Committee told the Board of Governors the committee met with National Guard officials and were told that tight federal budgets would mean it would be a while before the money could become available.

”They advised us that the federal funding would probably not be available until 2018 to 2020,” Campbell said. ”At the earliest, it would be somewhere in that timeframe.”

The National Guard originally allocated $4 million for Phase I of the project, with another million from federal funds.

When the project was announced in 2011, officials maintained it would be several years before the concept became a reality.

WVUP’s proposed multi-use facility – a partnership with the West Virginia Army National Guard – would serve as an event and convention center for the college, hosting athletic events, banquets and trade shows.

It would house a kitchen and storage facilities and classrooms. The facility is projected to seat as many as 3,500 people and encompass almost 58,000 square feet.

Phase II and III will be the Guard’s portions of the project. The entire project will cost about $40 million.

College officials need to come up with $8 million to meet their portion of the $13 million Readiness Center.

The National Guard is encouraging the college to continue to fund its portion of the project, more than $9 million. A capital campaign has been launched and officials are looking at ways to raise the money.

”(The National Guard’s) $4 million will not be available now,” Campbell said.

College officials are talking with the architects to see what changes can be made to the plans to save money and be able to add the National Guard portions at a later date.

The cost of those plans would be around $11 million.

”That means we still have work to do,” Campbell said.

Campbell said the college could approach local government entities, like the Wood County Commission, as well as private donors and others to request funding.

”In an effort to keep this moving and as we get closer to breaking ground…we are going to formulate a timeline to detail where things can get done,” he said.

Campbell said it is a process where things can happen to affect the project, but they want to continue to move forward.