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Modifications delay Sablich Center repairs

Lead technician Donald Vincent of Empire Integrated Services of San Antonio pulls wiring for phone and data systems in Sablich Center.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Kemberly Groue)

Lead technician Donald Vincent of Empire Integrated Services of San Antonio pulls wiring for phone and data systems in Sablich Center. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Completion of Hurricane Katrina repairs to Sablich Center has become a moving target.
Before the storm, the facility was the heart of Keesler's support activities. Since Katrina, offices and agencies have been scattered at several base locations while damage from storm water intrusion from the roof and windows is repaired. 

The $6.2 million restoration project began almost a year ago and was originally scheduled to be finished April 30. About 60 percent of the work has been done so far, according to Dave Horner of the 81st Civil Engineer Squadron's program management office. 

"We're in a holding pattern now awaiting modifications for the project," Mr. Horner explained. "Now we expect to complete the work in mid-summer and open the building for occupancy in September." 

Mr. Horner said most of the modifications involve the electrical system. Electrical codes have changed several times since the facility was constructed, and upgrading the wiring is a matter of safety and economics. 

"We had reports that the system wasn't sufficient to keep up with the building's growing demands before the storm, so we're upgrading that now," he commented. "Wiring has to be upgraded to support new mission requirements." 

Another part of the building modernization effort has been the installation of a fire suppression system throughout the building, which didn't have a sprinkler system before Katrina. 

In addition to the electrical improvements, ceiling grid work continues and roof-mounted air handling units remain to be installed. 

Mr. Horner added that a TIGER Team representing all of Sablich Center's intended users and operational groups is addressing furniture, requirements and functional needs. 

"The team meets every two to three weeks to discuss ongoing challenges so we'll have a complete and up-to-date facility," Mr. Horner stated. "We know people are anxious to be back in the building, and we're working hard to make that happen as soon as possible."