Straight Talk: Weather sirens and paving projects

  • Published
  • By Col. Stacy L. Yike
  • 66th Air Base Group commander
Q: I live on Offutt Road and I could not hear the siren that went off on July 19 to warn of severe weather. I went outside and could hear it faintly. Some evenings during the playing of the National Anthem I can only hear it faintly from my area, as well. I have recognized this as a problem in the past, but it didn't occur to me until tonight that this is an issue that must be addressed. While the middle of the base near the clinic, BX, commissary and shopette can hear the warnings well, some parts of the housing areas cannot. This is a safety issue since warning base residents on this side of the base of severe weather or other threats in the middle of the night is impossible. Is this a problem that we can expect to be rectified soon?

A: Thank you for bringing this to our attention. The Giant Voice speaker in this part of base housing was temporarily taken down due to construction while the contractors ran electrical lines for the new houses being built. The contractors have finished the work and have replaced the Giant Voice speaker. Let us know if you are still having trouble hearing it. As a general reminder, we will use Giant Voice to alert you to threatening weather. Once you hear Giant Voice, it is wise to tune in a local television or radio station to stay abreast of the situation.

Q: Why is it that we're repaving a large portion of the base when we have so many air conditioning issues that we should have used that money for instead?

A: Thanks for asking. The unexpected stimulus funding used for the paving project came from the President's initiative to help jump start a sluggish economy, but the funds carried a lot of unique requirements. In order to qualify for funding, the projects had to be already identified and also capable to award in just 120 calendar days. In the Civil Engineering world a major air conditioning project lifecycle starts with a request for design funds, selection of an Architect and Engineer firm to complete the design and specifications, a minimum of 120 days to complete the design, a request for construction funds, a minimum 30 day advertisement period and, finally, project award. So, while we have many HVAC repair and replacement projects identified, they did not meet the timeline requirement. Because of the short timeframe, headquarters limited the projects they approved to those which could be quickly executed. In our case, the Civil Engineers had existing projects for roof repairs, paving and site work and steam line repairs. AFMC selected the projects and we report the progress and costs monthly. It was a huge boon for Hanscom to get this unexpected $21 million and it helped eliminate a lot of our backlogged projects that had been waiting for funding. As a result of these projects, 51 people were employed, thus doing our part to help kick-start the economy.