The humidity was thick in the air, but the sun was shining on a day that has been years in the making for the city of Robstown

Local, state and federal officials broke ground Monday on a new, $9.1 million U.S. Army Reserve controlled humidity preservation warehouse that will be located in what U.S. Rep. Solomon Ortiz said used to be "the hub of South Texas."

"(Robstown) was an area that was ignored for many years," Ortiz said. "This will be the hub again."

Ortiz, who attended the event despite wearing a large brace to support his fractured foot, is credited by the Army Reserve for helping to appropriate the funds in Fiscal Year 2005 to support the facility's construction.

"It's not only good for the community, it's good for the military, as well," the congressman said.

The new 96,000-square-foot facility will store equipment needed for deployment and annual training. Its primary purpose will be to decrease backlogs and maintenance costs and keeping equipment at a high state of readiness. It will also store equipment for about 200 Reserve units across the southern states, Ortiz said.

More than 100 people, some of them local soldiers, attended the event at the facility's future site at 501 N. U.S. Hwy. 77, which is located across the highway from the Richard M. Borchard Regional Fairgrounds and along State Highway 44.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Oscar Ortiz, who was raised in Robstown, said he can barely believe the amount of growth his hometown has seen in just a few short years.

"It is very gratifying and I'm very proud at the same time," Ortiz said. "A seed was planted years ago and this area is beginning to develop and sprout…now we're seeing fruit."

Mayor Rodrigo Ramon Jr. said the groundbreaking event was the culmination of about seven years of work and discussions between city, county and federal officials.

"It's been a lot of hard work and persistence from people," Ramon said. "This is what we worked for and, at the end of the day, it's about quality of life."

Lt. Gen. Jack Stultz, Chief of the Army Reserve, said Monday that building a facility of this type to support the nation's troops only makes sense.

"I can't say enough about the true spirit of America that resides in South Texas," Stultz said. "Putting a facility like this back into Robstown…you could call it a partnership with America."

The project is expected to begin within the next two weeks and is scheduled for completion within a year, Reserve officials said Monday.


411 words