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Preschool children from the New Horizons Child Development Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, attend an event in November 2015.
Preschool children from the New Horizons Child Development Center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, attend an event in November 2015. (Michelle Gigante/U.S. Air Force)

DAYTON, Ohio (Tribune Content Agency) — While prospects appear good for congressional funding, construction of a new child development center on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base could take several years, the chief legislative backer of that center, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, said Tuesday.

“I think we’re pretty secure in the dollars we have in the bill,” Turner said in a press conference outside the Hope Hotel on Wright-Patterson.

A House Armed Services Committee vote last week included $24 million for a new Wright Patterson child development center, one of the Air Force’s top unfunded priorities. The vote also provided $19 million for an Army Reserve Training Center just outside the base fence line.

The bill still has to go to the floor for a House-wide vote, though some pre-conference committee work is happening to reconcile Senate and House defense spending moves, Turner said.

These projects take time. Turner noted that steel is now up for the new home for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), even though ground was broken for that center last November.

“The funding is for 2022,” said Turner, a Dayton Republican. “That would include design and also site prep. As you’ve seen with NASIC, it’s just in steel now. And that’s not because it’s a complex building; that’s just how far, how long it takes — there are environmental assessments that have to be done.”

“It’s going to take several years,” he added, referring to the child development construction project.

U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, R- Utah, who toured NASIC and the base with Turner before meeting the press, said this kind of project is important for military families.

“If your work ... is very important for national security, you need to find a way for those parents to come to work and feel very comfortable,” said Stewart, a member of the House Appropriations Committee. “If their own child care center is closed down and they’re just not able to find that kind of help, that’s a real national security concern.”

Military documents obtained by this newspaper in June pointed to problems at the current off-base child care facility in Riverside, including “issues with deteriorating structural systems, failing utilities, and insect and vermin infestation (which) detract from the ability to provide quality care and results in excessive service calls and causing the shutdown of child care activities in some cases.”

The 88th Air Base Wing, the unit that acts as landlord for the sprawling Air Force base, said children have not been at risk at any of the base’s child care centers.

“We’re expanding the facility, making it safer, bringing it on base,” Turner said.


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