Benchmark 1,000th Reconstruction Project Completed in Iraq
By Denise Calabria
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 31, 2005 The public spotlight recently shone on an unassuming, eight-classroom school in the town of Zakho, Iraq, and for good reason. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Gulf Region Division, responsible for oversight of reconstruction in Iraq, announced it had identified Betas School as its 1,000th completed reconstruction project.
Betas School students file through the gates of their newly renovated school to take part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Photo by Harry Weddington
(Click photo for screen-resolution image)
The Betas School, located amid rolling hills on the outskirts of the town of Zahko, in the northernmost province of Dahuk, is home to headmaster Ibraheem Nuri, 60 students, and seven teachers.
Nuri was visibly pleased and proud. "I have been the headmaster at Betas School for many years," he said, "but I never imagined it could be such a wonderful school. I am very happy for the teachers and students."
Nuri and his students took part in the school's ribbon-cutting ceremony. The children presented flowers and refreshments to all invited guests, including local government and tribal representatives.
U.S. Army Col. Kurt Ubellohde, district engineer for the Gulf Region Northern District, and numerous Corps staff members, as well as members from Washington Group International, the company that performed the renovations, also attended the ceremony. Local Kurdish television and U.S. military media chronicled the event.
Renovations to the school included replacing water tanks, water piping, and sewer pipes; installing toilets and sinks; laying a concrete floor and terrazzo tiles; and installing ceiling fans, interior and exterior lights and a school bell. Repairs also were made to the school safety wall.
While Betas School renovation is the 1,000th project, the pristine schoolhouse also serves as a symbol of the 840 planned school projects throughout the country. To date, 171 of these projects are ongoing, and 580 school projects are complete.
Spending on reconstruction projects in Iraq has reached more than $5.5 billion. Thus far, of the 3,200 total planned projects countrywide, 2,389 have started, 1,215 are ongoing, and 1,174 have been completed in the sectors of Buildings, Health, and Education; Oil, Security and Justice; Electricity; Transportation and Communications; and Public Works and Water.
(Denise Calabria is assigned to the Gulf Region Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.)