46,940-square-foot training building
13,585-square-foot maintenance building
$15 million total cost
26 acre site
5 Army Reserve units housed at center:
316th Engineer Company
327th Chemical Company
212th Transportation Company
591st Transportation Company detachment
631st Transportation Company detachment
Source: U.S. Army Reserve 81st Regional Support Command
Soldiers and speakers noted Saturday at the opening of the U.S. Army Reserve Center that the building symbolizes the area's support of military service.
John Dyess, an Army Reserve Ambassador, said the larger disconnect between the American public and military service can be somewhat bridged through local reserve and Army National Guard units.
"We really don't understand what the local reserve and Guard bring to the community ... or, indeed, what their mission is," Dyess said. "This is a way to be community-based, an easier chance for Chattanooga to find out about the military."
About 25 local residents and dignitaries, including U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger, attended the ceremony at the facility on Bonny Oaks Drive.
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Leach, who now is Chattanooga Public Works administrator, connected some of the site's military history with Saturday's event.
He pointed to the former location of Fort Cleburne, within sight of the new reserve center. The fort was named for Confederate Maj. Gen. Patrick Cleburne, who housed troops here to protect railways during the Civil War and fought in the nearby Battle of Missionary Ridge.
Just months before the United States entered World War II, the Army bought 8,000 acres, including the site's 26-acre plot, for the Volunteer Ordnance Plant, where it made and stored explosives for the war effort.
Construction for the 46,940-square-foot training building and 13,585-square-foot maintenance building began in September 2009, said Col. Patrick Briley, public works director for the 81st Regional Support Command, which oversees the local reserve units.
Five local units will operate and train there, sharing space with the Tennessee Air National Guard's 241st Engineering Installation Squadron. The Guard unit moved into its buildings on site in November 2010.
The reserve training building has equipment storage areas, a gym, distance learning classroom, cafeteria, office space and a weapons simulator training room.
Capt. Lee Oren Jr. commands the 316th Transportation Company, which will work out of the center.
"The opportunities that are here in regards to computer labs, the quick Internet access, the parking, the close proximity to the interstate itself, is great for soldiers coming from hundreds of miles around coming to the Chattanooga community," Oren said.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...