Oregon’s Army Corps of Engineers took on a special mission to help the small city of Maupin train future athletes
MAUPIN – The Maupin Deschutes River Athletic Complex (DRAC) is being built with the help of the Oregon National Guard through an Innovative Readiness Training (IRT) event.
An IRT is a project where the National Guard has the opportunity to help communities within their state, while also providing unique training the military does not often conduct.
Through this particular project, the 224th Engineer Company, headquartered in Dallas, Ore. had the opportunity to support the City of Maupin. The city has a population of 438 residents, and the regional high school serves on average 128 students from the 600,000-acre region, making funding scarce for improvement projects.
While common for civilian construction companies, a project like building an embankment, is not common for military engineer units. Together with the support from their higher headquarters, these Oregon National Guard soldiers were able to gain valuable real-world experience.
“This is a test of our ability to work on civilian projects,” said 1st Lt. John May. He explained that while some of his soldiers do similar work in their civilian careers, for most, this project is a unique opportunity.
The existing Maupin high school track was not only an odd shape, but was also not a normal distance. Its surface consisted of loose cinder gravel that could wash away or created puddles and ruts. The Maupin Deschutes River Athletic Complex started when Holly Miles, a student at the regional high school, asked her father, “Why don’t we just get a real track?”
Holly’s father, Rob Miles, is the president of the local Chamber of Commerce, and an active school board member. With his help, community support for the project grew.
“When we heard the Guard was coming, we knew this was finally happening, and then we really got in gear to get things moving. This project didn’t have any momentum without [the 224th Engineers],” said Rob Miles. He expressed his appreciation for the “amazing work the Oregon National Guard is providing the community.”
With substantial support from the community, the Maupin City Chamber of Commerce also reached out to Michael Bergmann, a member of a the Tracklandia program to help them with the new facilities. Looking at the location, he noted, “There is so much potential for this facility.” Together with the city, the Maupin Deschutes River Complex became more than just a new track. “When I arrived and saw the view of the Deschutes, I was amazed, “ said Bergmann.
Bergmann has past experience in other cities across Oregon with track improvement projects. His previous projects include Central Catholic High School’s track and field improvement and the building of the St. John’s neighborhood Teddy Roosevelt Track Project to bring people together through sports. His previous experience developing sports complex projects led him to put in a request to The Oregon Army National Guard.
And this time, when he and the city requested assistance from the National Guard, the 224th Engineer Company with support from the 1249th Engineer Battalion was ready to answer the call.
“Our soldiers are loving this change of pace. Not only are we getting to train and get new Soldiers on equipment, we’re getting to help this community,” said Sgt. McKinely Keener
The Geological Engineer for the project, Stan Kelsay, who also is a Maupin resident, donated his skills and time to the project. Kelsay has more than 35 years working as a geological engineer for construction projects and was “incredibly satisfied” with the 224th’s operations.
Kelsay commented that with what he had seen so far, he had “no concerns about the structural integrity of the project,” and noted that he’s especially critical, since his house is downhill from the project.
Several of the Soldiers expressed their interest in coming back in the future, when the project is complete, to see the end result of their efforts.
Captain Paul Leifer, commander of the 224th Engineer Company, told community and project representatives, “Our Soldiers are proud to be supporting and improving this community as part of their service in the Oregon National Guard,” a sentiment echoed by every Soldier working on the project.
With the Guard’s improvements, other contractors will be able to build the track to regulation length, with a better surface. It will also allow for the regulation oval shape, further providing space for a full-size football field in the center. Maupin will be able to host visiting high school teams, and other community events.
Additional projects to complete the track will be completed by civilian contractors, including a performance venue, improved seating, and food truck hookups to enhance concessions.
For more information on the Maupin Deschutes River Complex project visit maupindrac.org