Noem requests money for rec center near Ellsworth

Noem’s budget calls for more than three million dollars to go to a new recreation center near Ellsworth Air Force Base
Public recreation center planned near Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Public recreation center planned near Ellsworth Air Force Base.
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 6:36 PM CST
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BOX ELDER, S.D. (KOTA) - As the B-21 expansion at Ellsworth Air Force Base will likely bring thousands of people to live and work in the Black Hills, giving South Dakota a reason to invest in their lives.

On Tuesday, Governor Kristi Noem gave her 2020 budget address to the state legislature in Pierre, and Noem specifically requested money for the airmen.

“I have requested $3.2 million in one-time funding to support a new recreational facility to replace the loss of that Pride Hanger,” said Noem in a visit to VRC Metal Systems in Box Elder, S.D. on Wednesday. “The new facility will become a center for community wellness.”

The 28th Bomb Wing currently uses the Pride Hanger for training. But a new recreational facility, called the Liberty Center, will allow the Pride Hanger to convert back to it’s original function -- storing aircraft.

The Liberty Center is estimated to cost $12.7 million, but the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority already has a grant from the Department of Defense, TIF funds from Pennington County, and the money Noem requested.

“On our end, we have a lot of work to do with the local community, because all of that construction is going to bring additional traffic, and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t impact the local community in an adverse way,” said Colonel David Doss, Commander of the 28th Bomb Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base. “Of course, there are security concerns that come with that as well that we need to address, but all of those things are being planned out right now. We are constantly moving forward and looking at that and we’ll be ready to go as soon as we’re given the green light to begin.”

The Mayor of Box Elder said this recreational center will serve as a focal point for the community, since both airmen and civilians will be welcome.

“We’ve been working really hard in the city over the last couple of years, trying to create a vision of what Box Elder should look like in the future, and people go, ‘where’s the Main Street?’ Well, we have none,” said Mayor Larry Larson, Box Elder. “This wellness center is kind of going to be the center-point of our new center of this city.”

Construction on the Liberty Center is set to begin in 2021.

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