BELTON — Security improvements at Robert Gray Army Airfield and the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport are inching closer to reality.
The Bell County Commissioners on Monday approved two contracts related to the $3.1 million Defense Economic Adjustment Assistance Grant that will fund the security upgrades.
The first contract is an understanding between Bell County and Fort Hood that allows access to federal property at Fort Hood and the airfield.
The other contract is an agreement with the city of Killeen, outlining that the city will manage the project while Bell County will be the funding entity.
“We’re collecting the dollars, which we already have, and we’ll be paying those dollars out when it’s appropriate,” Bell County Judge Jon Burrows said.
Garver, an Arkansas-based engineering firm, will install the new 24-hour surveillance system at the airfield and airport. The new security system will allow soldiers to train for combat missions rather than be on the ground guarding the airfield and airport.
“Based on their track record, they’ve (Garver) come in under schedule and under budget on their last project. It’s good they’re on the project,” Commissioner John Fisher said.
Last week, the Commissioners Court unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with the city of Killeen. The Killeen City Council approved that agreement April 10.
Matthew Van Valkenburgh, the executive director of aviation at the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport, told the FME News Service that designs for the project will begin next month. He said the security upgrades are exciting and the city of Killeen is ready to get started on the project.
The contract the Commissioners Court approved Monday will be considered by the Killeen City Council next week, Van Valkenburgh said.
Bell County won the grant in December. The grant is administered by the Texas Military Preparedness Commission.
The county sponsored the grant application. The county — along with the cities of Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Gatesville, Harker Heights and Killeen — split the cost share of the grant. Combined, the local governments spent $500,000 for the grant.
The goal of the grant is to increase the value of Fort Hood, the world’s largest military installation, so the post is less likely to be closed or reduced in size when a base realignment occurs.
The grant is expected to save more than 4 million work hours at Fort Hood annually and give a total of 5,500 security training days back to soldiers, said retired Col. Keith Sledd, the executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance and.