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Keesler, Mississippi leadership hold announcement ceremony for new base gate

Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Biloxi Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Col. Michele Edmondson, former 81st Training Wing commander, delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Col. Michele Edmondson, former 81st Training Wing commander, delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Local, state and federal officials and Keesler Air Force Base leaders attend the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. The event announced an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Local, state and federal officials and Keesler Air Force Base leaders attend the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. The event announced an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senator Roger Wicker is welcomed by Col. Michele Edmondson, former 81st Training Wing commander, during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senator Roger Wicker is welcomed by Col. Michele Edmondson, former 81st Training Wing commander, during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senator Roger Wicker delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Senator Roger Wicker delivers remarks during the Keesler main gate announcement June 1, 2017, in Biloxi, Miss. Local, state and federal officials joined Keesler Air Force Base leaders to announce an estimated $37 million project to locate a new main entry gate at Division St. and Forrest Ave. The two-year project includes an expanded and enhanced boulevard along Division St. from I-110 to Forrest Ave. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --

Base leaders, along with community and state officials, gathered to announce construction of a new main gate here, June 1.

 

The estimated $37 million project will be at the intersection of Forrest Avenue and Division Street, and take approximately two years to complete.

 

Mark Malone, 81st Infrastructure Division director, said the gate’s updated features include access roads, antiterrorism measures, commercial vehicle inspection station and visitor control center will help alleviate traffic stress on Highway 90 and make the base compliant with current Defense Department security and anti-terror regulations.

 

This joint effort between the base and state began nearly 15 years ago.

 

“This has been dreamed about for years, and together the partners have taken the dream and made it reality,” said Biloxi Mayor Andrew ‘FoFo’ Gilich. “We’re here today to announce a project that will advance the long-standing relationship between Biloxi and Keesler. There were many people involved in this process, and we are indebted to every one of them.”

 

Moving Keesler’s main gate to Division Street, away from White Avenue, means a significant portion of the construction efforts will be spent widening Division Street into a four-lane road which will open up the base for personnel coming directly in from Interstate 110, as well as help stimulate local economy in east Biloxi.

 

“The Division Street Gate will provide an efficient, secure, and aesthetically pleasing main entrance to Keesler that has been needed for a long time,” said Col. Michele Edmondson, 81st Training Wing commander. “And it’s a symbol of the relationship between the base and community.”

 

Col. Danny Davis, 81st Mission Support Group commander, said the gate is a great Air Force community partnership opportunity.

 

“This project falls right in line with our Public-Public, Public-Private initiative here at Keesler,” said Davis. “The success we’ve had working with state and local governments to get this project off the ground is amazing.  Our initial success in conjunction with the hand-in-hand work we’ll be doing with the community to get the project completed demonstrates what the Air Force Community Partnership Program is all about.”

 

Keesler officially “kicked off” the Air Force Community Partnership Program at the base May 3, 2017 and is set to have a follow up “brainstorming” session with community partners July 27.

 

No date has been set to begin construction of the new gate.