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Louisiana Begins Reconstruction of National Guard Landmark

By Army Sgt. Michael L. Owens and Army Sgt. Beyonka D. Joseph
American Forces Press Service

NEW ORLEANS, Jan. 7, 2009 – A massive reconstruction of the historic Louisiana National Guard headquarters is under way and inching closer to its projected completion date of January 2010.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Reconstruction has begun on a building that will house the Louisiana adjutant general's office at Jackson Barracks in New Orleans. Jackson Barracks is the Louisiana National Guard headquarters that was heavily damaged in 2005 as a result of Hurricane Katrina. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Beyonka Joseph

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Jackson Barracks, built in the mid-1830s, was heavily damaged by flood waters after Hurricane Katrina devastated the area three years ago.

Army Lt. Col. Danny P. Bordelon, commander of the 527th Engineer Battalion, is in charge of all of the state Guard’s construction projects south of Baton Rouge. He explained that having 16 buildings under six different contracts for the $200 million project will speed construction.

Once the project is complete, about 700 Guard members will work here during the week and an additional 3,500 soldiers and airmen will drill here on weekends, Army Maj. Gen. Hunt B. Downer, Louisiana's assistant adjutant general, said. "The increase in personnel will have almost a $110 million impact on the economy in this area," he noted.

Some of the buildings will serve as new offices for the Joint Forces Headquarters and the historic 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery Regiment.

Most of the units that will relocate to Jackson Barracks currently work in other armories around the state.

"With the progress that we are making, I am confident that this project will be completed on time or maybe ahead of our deadline," said Ronald P. Dufore, a project superintendent for Gibbs Construction.

Though most of the buildings are standing tall, tasks such as the installation of sod, concrete walks and the buildings' interiors are being finalized.

"Since New Orleans is my hometown, it will be awesome to be closer to my family," said Army 1st Lt. Lance T. Cagnolatti, whose job was relocated to Carville, La., after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. "I cannot wait to see the impact that Jackson Barracks will have on the economy and the creation of new jobs."

Jackson Barracks is located in the Lower 9th Ward at the Orleans and St. Bernard Parish line and is the headquarters for Louisiana National Guard and the Louisiana Military Department.

The installation, which will include up-to-date multi-purpose readiness centers, has the largest collection of pre-Civil War buildings in the United States and was originally a supply and medical point for troops after the War of 1812.

Originally known as New Orleans Barracks, it was renamed in 1866 in honor of Andrew Jackson, who first advocated a U.S. military base in the area.

(Sgt. Michael L. Owens and Sgt. Beyonka D. Joseph serve in the Louisiana Army National Guard public affairs office.)

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