DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The Visitor Control Center conducted a groundbreaking ceremony with Dyess Air Force Base leadership, Military Affairs Committee, the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of Abilene at Dyess AFB, Texas, Jan. 25, 2021.
The groundbreaking ceremony signified the beginning of the Visitor Control Center’s renovations, which hasn’t occurred after the pass office was moved to the center in 2005.
“With the help of the Chamber of Commerce and the Military Affairs Committee, we were able to receive the Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant from the state of Texas,” said Col. Ed Sumangil, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “This is a representation, once again, of the partnership between Dyess Air Force Base and the Abilene community.”
The plans for renovations have been in the works for years, but the city of Abilene was able to provide $1.4 million to make this project a reality through the grant.
“Words can’t express how excited I was when I found out this project was going to go through,” said Ralph Hatcher, 7th Security Forces flight commander of plans and programs. “The visitor center is too small for the mission that it’s currently performing and I think this renovation is going to add a whole new level of improved customer service.”
Before the renovations began, the Visitor Control Center was too small to hold mass visitors and families, as they annually assist approximately 15,000 people, causing them to stand out in Texas’ many different weather conditions. Although the center was smaller, in the past year it was still able to conduct over 30,000 OpenFox inquiries, denying 33 felons and helping aid local law enforcement capture wanted persons.
“The groundbreaking ceremony really does show the cooperation between the city of Abilene and Dyess,” said Hatcher. “The city goes out of their way to make everyone on Dyess feel welcomed to the community.”