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(U.S. Air Force)

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune News Service) — Both House and Senate military construction spending blueprints provide $24 million in funding for a new child care center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio lawmakers are saying.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said funds for a new child development center for Wright-Patterson were included in the House spending plan for military construction thus far.

According to Sen. Sherrod Brown's office, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out its version of the fiscal year 2022 "military construction, veterans affairs, and related agencies appropriations bill" Aug. 4, by a vote of 25-5. It includes $24 million in funding for a new "child development center" at Wright-Patterson.

There has been no Senate-wide vote on the issue yet.

"He will continue to fight to deliver that funding as the budget process continues," Brown's office said.

It remains to be seen what emerges from final congressional votes and a joint conference committee that irons out differences between House and Senate spending plans.

"This is a very important construction project, not only for Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, but also nationally," Turner said in a recent interview. "Whenever you have a facility that is subpar, that services the children of service members, it ... certainly affects morale and it raises concerns about conditions."

The new center would have capacity for 304 children, up from 100 children, the congressman added.

Documents obtained by the Dayton Daily News say current child care facilities at Wright-Patterson "can't accommodate the total waiting list, which ranges between 200-415 children."

The Dayton Daily News reported in June that the Air Force has identified a need for a new, $24 million child care center at the base, to help serve the base's more than 30,000 military and civilian employees, according to federal military construction documents.

Those documents described one of the base's current child care centers — a 62-year-old former school building outside the base perimeter, in Riverside — as having an "insect and vermin infestation" and a gas leak that at one point caused children to be evacuated, among other issues.

Child care at Wright-Patterson is offered at four child development centers housed in three facilities. That includes one building at 156 Spinning Road in the Prairies subdivision, a Riverside housing area for base personnel off Airway Road. The other two facilities are on Area A and Area B on the base, according to a base web site.

No children were in any health or safety risk at the center and inspections are conducted on a regular basis, Wright-Patterson spokespeople told the newspaper in June.

A message seeking comment was sent to Brown's Republican counterpart., Sen. Rob Portman.

The House Appropriations Committee voted this summer to direct $213 million for the "planning and design" of future child development centers. The plan does not list specific bases or construction projects, but does order the Pentagon to provide a plan for spending the money within two months of the budget becoming law, the Military Times reported.

The House of Representatives' version of the emerging federal budget for fiscal 2022 also directs $1 million in funding for a new council of local, Dayton-area governments formed last year to support Wright-Patterson, Turner said.

Eight of those local and county governments — Huber Heights, Dayton, Fairborn, Beavercreek, Bath Twp., Riverside and Montgomery and Greene counties — formed the group (the Wright Patterson Council of Regional Governments) to collaborate on economic development and land use around the base.

It's the first federal money for that council, Turner said.

"It was our goal to try to shepherd state, local and federal dollars to that, in the aggregate, to be able to work together, to improve the economic development potential around the base," he said.

That money was secured in the House spending blueprint, which also provides $17 million funding for an Army Reserve training facility, located just outside Wright-Patterson, Turner said.

(c)2021 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio)

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