FLETCHER, N.C. – Thanks to a partnership with the North Carolina National Guard and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NCDA & CS) additional parking spaces will be available at the Western North Carolina Agricultural Center (WNC Ag Center) here. Soldiers assigned to the 725th Engineer Support Platoon (ESP), 105th Engineer Battalion, 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), spent their annual training transforming six acres adjacent to the current parking area, on the southwest side of the agricultural center’s property, into a gravel lot June 2-15, 2017.“It’s going to give them 456 more spaces to support the Mountain State Fair,” said Army 1st Lt. Erin Graham, the commander of the 725th ESP. Steve Troxler, the North Carolina Agriculture Commissioner, said, He is looking forward to the impact this parking lot will have on the Mountain State Fair, which is held at the WNC Ag Center. “This will allow us to expand the number of people who come to the Mountain State Fair,” Troxler said. “We’ve been wanting to get 200,000 people to visit the fair but we haven’t had enough parking. This is going to be really helpful. This is a great example of how partnerships ought to be in government. We’re able to get this project done much cheaper.”The Guard’s assistance, along with site preparation work completed by the North Carolina Forest Service’s Young Offenders Forest Conservation Program, saved the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services an estimated $250,000. In addition to the savings, the Soldiers involved gained invaluable training on a real-world project.“We’re building them a parking lot, and in return we’re getting man-hours on all of our equipment,” Graham said. “Rather than going to Fort Bragg and doing mock scenarios, we’re actually impacting the community.”The project won’t be completed by the 725th. Another North Carolina Guard engineer unit, assigned to the 505th Engineer Battalion, 130th MEB, will be finishing it. The parking lot is slated for completion June 30, 2017.
Story by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell