Officials at Valley air base dig in to begin $11M gate project

.Col. Mike Maloney, Commander 910th Airlift Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station, gives his opening remarks during the Main Gate Relocation Project Groundbreaking Ceremony...by R. Michael Semple

VIENNA — Ground was broken Tuesday on the long-awaited $11 million main gate relocation project at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station, and it’s scheduled to be finished in August 2025.

“This was a long time coming,” Col. Mike Maloney, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing at YARS, said during a ceremony at the base. “This is the culmination of a lot of hard work and a lot of contributions from the community.”

The project initially was proposed seven years ago and received $8.8 million in federal funding in 2018. The rest of the project’s funding came from the federal government last year.

Three years of negotiations with James and Nancy Alderman of Vienna resulted in the $423,500 sale of 42.35 acres of property on King Graves Road to the Western Reserve Port Authority, acting on behalf of the air base, to build a new main gate.

Terry Slaybaugh, vice president of sites and infrastructure for JobsOhio, which provided a $250,000 grant toward the purchase, said: “We were very concerned we were going to lose the property.”

The current gate is inefficient, outdated and doesn’t provide the needed security for the base or for vehicles traveling on the road, Maloney said.

“It’s no secret that we live in a much more dangerous world than we have in the past,” he said. “It will bring us away from the main supply route. It gives us more protection and distance from the public access to where we enter the base. It gives us better visibility on who is coming to the base. It’s more advanced for vehicle screening. It’s better protection for the security forces that are manning the gate, and it’s also better for the safety of vehicular traffic.”

It’s the first time since 1958 — six years after the base opened — that the installation’s footprint is increasing.

Mike Coates Construction of Niles was selected in September as the project’s general contractor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Louisville District overseeing the work. That district oversees all Air Force Reserve projects.

“This is an exciting time as we see this project transition from concept to construction,” said Cristie Mitchell, the district’s deputy chief of planning and project management.

She added: “A project like this can be a real jump starter for a community.”

The project will include a new, more secure main gate as well as an inspection bay, a gate house and a visitors center.

“It’s a significant project,” said Anthony Trevena, WRPA executive director. “It’s a big step towards protecting and preserving our base.”

Once the new gate is opened, YARS will use the existing one for commercial traffic and as another exit out of the base, Maloney said.

There is still the possibility of a long-discussed secondary entrance on state Route 193 near the former Airport Inn for commercial vehicles, Trevena said, though no funding is in place for it.


The air base is undergoing significant changes, Maloney said.

A project, funded by an $8 million federal grant, will start shortly to resurface the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport’s 9,000-foot taxiway that leads to the facility’s main runway and connects to YARS.

Then the base’s air fleet will be upgraded starting in July with the arrival of the first of eight new C-130J Super Hercules aircrafts. The second plane will come a few months later, Maloney said.

The remaining six will arrive in 2025, he said.

During the transition, YARS will return a C-130H to the military for every new C-130J it receives, Maloney said.

The eight new planes cost about $1 billion in total.

The C-130J reduces manpower requirements, lowers operating and support costs and provides life-cycle cost savings over earlier C-130 models, according to the Air Force. They also are capable of climbing faster, flying farther at a higher cruise speed, and taking off and landing in a shorter distance.

The C-130H models at YARS were built between 1989 and 1992.

Also, the base received approval last month for a $2.5 million federal earmark that will be used for planning and design work for a new fire station. The station itself is estimated to cost $25 million.

The YARS fire department is one of the largest in Trumbull County and has 42 mutual aid agreements, mostly in Trumbull. The department also provides crash response to the airport.

The base is home to the 910th Airlift Wing, the U.S. Department of Defense’s only large-area fixed-wing aerial spray unit. It controls disease-carrying insects, pest insects and undesirable vegetation as well as dispersing oil spills in large bodies of water.

YARS has about 2,000 employees, most of them reservists and active duty and an annual economic impact of about $150 million.

Have an interesting story? Contact David Skolnick by email at dskolnick@vindy.com. Follow him on X, formerly Twitter, @dskolnick.


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