BOX ELDER, S.D. — Governor Kristi Noem in Box Elder Wednesday, one day after her budget address in which she announced a major project for Ellsworth Air Force Base and the community.
A new recreational center is going to be located near the base, as Ellsworth is losing a hangar in preparation for the arrival of the B-21.
The addition will allow the base’s current hangar to go back to storing aircraft.
“We’re excited to show our airmen, our military men and women, also our communities and the people that live here how much we appreciate them; their service to our military and our country,” Noem said.
Governor Noem was at the VRC Metal Systems building in Box Elder to expand on funds she wants allocated for a new community recreation center.
Access to the $12.7 million rec center, set to go along Liberty Boulevard, north of I-90 in Box Elder and dubbed “The Liberty Center”, will be for all military members, their families and local residents.
The South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority partnered with Dream Design International, JLG Architect and Dean Kurtz Construction to build Liberty Center and the surrounding development in the area. Construction is slated to begin as early as march of 20-21.
The authority received a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, which will cover about half of the expenses to build the rec center. Gov. Noem also said that the state will provide about $3.2 million for the project.
Businesses in the community of Box Elder can look forward to an increase of airmen that will also come with the addition of the B-21 bombers.
“This wellness center, community center, that whole area, there’s 110 acres, I believe, over there and we’ve got a developer that’s developing that whole area,” said Larry Larson, the Mayor of Box Elder. “It’s going to have businesses and single family houses, apartments. We’ve got seven different housing areas being build in right now.”
And as the mid-2020’s near, Ellsworth keeps it’s sights set on prepping the base for the B-21 raider, waiting for budget and environmental approval.
“We’re going to need to make sure it doesn’t impact the local community in an adverse way, of course there’s security concerns that come with that as well that we need to address, but all of those things are being planned right now,” said Colonel David Doss of Ellsworth Air Force Base. “We’re constantly moving forward in looking at that and we’ll be ready to go as soon as we’re given the green light to being.”