Keesler events center about to open - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Keesler events center about to open

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

By Doug Walker – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One look inside the new events center, and you know you're looking at something very special. Upstairs, you get a spectacular view of the Keesler airfield. Look down, and you can watch the kids try their hand at the game of golf.

John Thurmon is the deputy service commander for the base. This is the chance of a lifetime for him. 

"I'm thrilled to be a part of this." Thurmon said.  "My last base we were trying to build some new buildings, but I left before we got to build them. [I] came here, and I've watched this thing come from the ground up. It is fantastic, and I'm proud to be a part of it!" 

A state of the art kitchen will serve the hungry, and adult beverages will also be part of the recreation equation. Kids will soon play pool in a room built just for them, and adults can dance their military cares away in the ballroom. Thurmon said it's a great step forward.

"This will greatly impact the quality of life of the Keesler family. Since Katrina, we haven't had a club, haven't had a community center, and we haven't had a golf course clubhouse." 

Nearly five years ago, Keesler was wrecked by Hurricane Katrina. Now, this new building represents a comeback, a comeback in a big way. Lt. Col. Richard Cole is the base services commander.  

"What we would call this is the crown jewel of all the building that has gone on here at the Air Force Base, and so we can definitely say we are back from Katrina. And we're better than ever before," Cole said. "This state of the art facility is just fantastic." 

And Cole said Air Force higher-ups are also impressed by what they see on the edge of the Biloxi Back Bay. 

"There's been a few generals that have come through here and have said, 'I've never seen anything like it.'"

And when the center opens in September, neither will anyone else. The event center is part of a $74 million contract awarded last year to Yates Construction. 

Other buildings in the package include a new student dormitory and a fire rescue station to replace facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

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