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Fort Leonard Wood addresses regional needs with new hospital and air service

Jonathan Ahl | St. Louis Public Radio

Fort Leonard Wood in Pulaski County will start building a new hospital and seeing expanded commercial air service in 2019.

Both moves will create construction jobs and are expected to help the local economy.

Col. Eric Towns, garrison commander at Fort Leonard Wood, discussed the projects at the annual meeting of the Rolla Regional Economic Commission earlier this month.

“We have a good hospital, but new technology and increased demands are requiring us to build a new one,” Towns said. “And it will benefit more than just the soldiers at the installation. It is also an important part of the region, because it provides services to retired military that have chosen this great region to retire.”

The construction will take three to five years, creating hundreds of construction jobs during that time. Towns said the groundbreaking will happen in the coming year, but it’s too soon to know how many new permanent jobs will be created by staffing the new hospital.

In addition to the hospital, Towns told the commission he expects to see an upgrade in the commercial passenger air service at Fort Leonard Wood in 2019.

“It’s too soon to name names and give details,” Towns said. “But we expect the size of the planes flying into and out of the airport to increase in size in the coming months.”

Currently, Cape Air serves the Waynesville-St. Robert Regional Airport located at Fort Leonard Wood with flights to St. Louis.

Towns said the expected upgrade will give more flight options to the soldiers on base and the general public. He said it would also lead to a construction project of its own.

“With that increase in size of airplane, we will have to increase the size of the terminal just to hold those people,” Towns said.

Follow Jonathan Twitter: @JonathanAhl


Jonathan is the Rolla correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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