Southbridge, Now Open For Business

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt Vincent De Groot
  • 185 ARW Wing PA
"On time, on budget!" That was the theme reiterated by Sioux City Iowa's city council members at this morning's ribbon cutting ceremony, officially opening the new Southbridge Drive near the airport entrance in Sioux City.
For the Iowa National Guard's 185th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), the Southbridge project began almost two years ago. At that time, members of the 185th ARW who had offices in the old Lilliston building began to pack up and prepare to move across the street to the main base so that the Lilliston building could be removed to make way for the new construction.
Prior to becoming National Guard property, the Lilliston building was home to the Lilliston farm implement manufacturing business, and the name stuck. After acquiring the property, the Guard used the building for many years as office space. The one problem with the old steel building, according to Col. Brian Miller, Wing Commander for the 185th ARW, was location. The building was on the other side of Harbor Drive, which essentially cut through the National Guard installation. With two gates and a public road separating the two sides of the base, it became one base, geographically separated into two parts.

The removal of the Lillistion building created just enough room for the new Southbridge Drive to go around another existing Air Guard building, as well as the Army National Guard Armory occupied by the 113th Cavalry, thus making the Guard base a single, geographic unit. The new construction also allows some breathing room for 185th Security Forces, whose job it is to secure the flight line. The old public road was literally a stone's throw from the flight line where the 185th's KC-135 mid-air refueling aircraft are typically parked. "This was a very real concern for us", said Col. Miller. "Base security is very important. I feel a lot better about the security of our base and the safety of our Airman. It just makes sense."

To sweeten the deal, the Guard was able to contribute $750,000 dollars to assist in the completion of the project. Now that Southbridge Drive is officially open for business, the city is hopeful that this project will also provide incentives for economic growth in the area, providing a new avenue to success for the city as well as future cooperation with the National Guard.

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