New school dedicated

Louise Oleson, Editor
ND?Governor John Hoeven and wielding a huge pair of scissors, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, prepare to cut the ribbon at Saturday’s ceremony to dedicate the new RTI at Camp Grafton. Beside them are Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota National Guard adjutant general, and Col. Steve Tabor, director of facilities, commander, 164th Regiment.

Hundreds enjoyed the warm and sunny Saturday morning as the new 164th Regiment Regional Training Institute (RTI) building was dedicated at Camp Grafton.

Devils Lake native, Col. Steve Tabor welcomed the hundreds of military personnel and civilians attending the day’s ceremony. He introduced the special guests present; ND Governor John Hoeven, Rep. Earl Pomeroy, Major General David Sprynczyntyk, Tyler Axness representing Sen. Dorgan and Jim Hand representing Sen. Kent Conrad.

Tabor also introduced the many visitors throughout the crowd who came for the special day - several had served in past years as commanders and commandants of the school.

During the speeches of thanks and appreciation from the honored guests, Gov. Hoeven stressed that the ND National Guard is the best in the nation. He talked about the many ways they have served North Dakota both at home and overseas.

He talked about their innovative approach to problem solving, for example, the one-ton sandbags that were used during Red River flooding when there was a breach in the levies. The helicopter precision-placed bags have now become one of the weapons in the arsenal the nation has to fight flooding.

“That came from North Dakota and our National Guard,” Hoeven explained.

His humorous explanation of how the Guard came up with the idea and the explosives to clear a huge ice jam that was flooding the city of Bismarck last spring brought laughter from the crowd.

He called the Guard “flat out wonderful” and thanked them for their service to North Dakota and the nation as he congratulated them on the new, beautiful school building.

Congressman Pomeroy said this is a proud day for North Dakota and the ND?National Guard. “At last we’ve got the plant - the building - that you deserve.”

He reminded the crowd of the cold, windy day in 2008 when they broke ground for the school

“As we look out over this beautiful lake and standing in front of this beautiful school, we are reminded of the beauty and the challenges of living here in North Dakota - for there is a lot of both ahead of us - beauty and challenges,” Pomeroy said.

“Thank goodness for the North Dakota National Guard. We have exceptional people with exceptional skills,” he added.

“The fact that the Army continues to send such a high percentage of its engineers here just goes to show the quality of the work done by the North Dakota National Guard here at Camp Grafton,” Pomeroy said. “North Dakotans keep raising the standard for the rest of the country, and I want to keep it that way.”

Pomeroy spoke to the importance of federal investment in the training of North Dakota’s combat engineers as they continue to play an essential role in defending our nation in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world.

“I have long been committed to ensuring that these citizen soldiers receive the best equipment, facilities and service possible,” said Congressman Pomeroy. “The men and women of the North Dakota National Guard have demonstrated again and again that they are among the best in the country, and they deserve the very best facilities.”

 A steadfast supporter of the North Dakota National Guard, Pomeroy worked with his fellow members of North Dakota’s congressional delegation to obtain the $30.5 million in federal funding that made this construction possible.

Sprynczynatyk gave a brief history of the RTI and talked about how the school benefits soldiers from throughout North Dakota and the nation.

Jim Hand, representing Sen. Conrad’s office and Tyler Axtness, representing Sen. Dorgan’s office both read letters to the crowd congratulating Camp Grafton and the National Guard on the school’s completion.

Then Tabor gave a brief overview of how carefully the facility was built to meet the needs of the school’s mission. He was proud that they utilized the input from those who actually teach in the facility.

“We brought them all together for four days to work on the specifics of the design,” he explained.

“The new facility will house classes from 34 different buildings at Camp Grafton,” Tabor said.

“It will improve the capability and capacity of the school,” he added, “This is a great day for the regiment and the National Guard.”

The 164th Regiment RTI is a fully accredited, Full-Time Reserve Component (RC) School which provides Engineer military occupational specialty (MOS) training.

Currently there are 90 (2 deployed) full-time soldiers and 14 traditional soldiers who support the RTI. It is commanded by Col. Steve Tabor, the full time officer in charge is ILT Darrin Anderson and CSM?Orville Wang is the Senior NCO.

 The RTI Phase I is a fiscal year 2008 Grow the Force Military Construction Project. The $30.67 million contract was awarded on April 11, 2008. Construction of the 182,825 square foot facility began in May of that year.

Phase I consists of administrative space, education/classroom space to include a vertical construction lab and one of three wings of billeting. The building was substantially completed July 1, 2010.