Col. Franz J. Amann, commander of the Pine Bluff Arsenal, told a meeting of the Pine Bluff Rotary Club on Tuesday afternoon that the base continues to serve out a mission that is separate from the recently concluded chemical stockpile disposal operations. "The last 30 months I've had a great time working at the arsenal and helping to fulfill its mission of providing our servicemen and -women with the tools that they need to safely carry out their missions," Amann said. "I am so thankful for this community and all of the support that it has shown to us. I have people who still ask me when the arsenal will be closing but the bottom line is that we are not closing our doors.

Col. Franz J. Amann, commander of the Pine Bluff Arsenal, told a meeting of the Pine Bluff Rotary Club on Tuesday afternoon that the base continues to serve out a mission that is separate from the recently concluded chemical stockpile disposal operations. “The last 30 months I’ve had a great time working at the arsenal and helping to fulfill its mission of providing our servicemen and -women with the tools that they need to safely carry out their missions,” Amann said. “I am so thankful for this community and all of the support that it has shown to us. I have people who still ask me when the arsenal will be closing but the bottom line is that we are not closing our doors.

“The focus is on the closure of the demil facility now that the chemical stockpile disposal operations have concluded,” Amann said. “In addition, key infrastructure investments continue. We’re focusing on mission, quality of life and energy conservation to enhance our manufacturing and logistics capabilities. “We expect that by 2014 we will have between 1,100 and 1,200 personnel working at the arsenal. For fiscal year 2011 the arsenal had a payroll of $80 million with an additional $20 million in local contracts for goods and services that benefits the local community. We are hopeful that the budget for fiscal year 2012 will be about the same,” Amann said. “The chemical agent disposal facility operations were completed in November 2010 as I’m sure everyone knows. The closure of the facility is expected by September of 2013 and the complete contract closeout should be complete by around July of 2014,” Amann said. “Since the year 2000 there have been $174 million in infrastructure investments made at the arsenal. The arsenal’s number one priority construction project is the construction of the new Ammunition Operations Facility. It will cost an estimated $14.6 million and will replace an existing facility constructed in 1970. The new facility will meet explosive safety and tornado protection requirements that the current facility lacks,” Amann said. Amann provided an update on a new child daycare center that had its groundbreaking on Oct. 18. “The new child development center will be a significant improvement over our existing childcare situation. We have a number of couples who both work at the arsenal who will benefit from this new center. It is scheduled to open in early summer of 2012 and will significantly reduce the waiting list, which has been as long as one year to secure a spot,” Amann said.

Amann said that a $25 million upgrade of the arsenal’s storage warehouses is 40 percent complete with an estimated completion date of September 2012. Amann said the arsenal entered into an energy savings performance contract with Trane to upgrade the facility’s heating and cooling equipment.

“The project is 90 percent complete and will result in a $3.4 million guaranteed annual energy reduction,” Amann said. The arsenal received $25 million in funding as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to demolish World War II-era steam lines and to replace them with a modern heating and cooling system, according to Amann. “The project is 13 percent complete and is estimated for completion by August 2012,” Amann said. “The new Armed Forces Reserve Center will open on December 3 of this year. It is located outside of the A Gate and will be able to accommodate 200 people,” Amann said. “Our employees are proud to be able to work at the arsenal. We try to give back to the community and that is part of what makes me so proud to be out there,” Amann said. The arsenal manufactures and refurbishes smoke, riot control and incendiary munitions as well as chemical and biological defense operations items; serves as a technology center for illuminating and infrared munitions and is also the only site in the Northern Hemisphere where white phosphorus munitions are filled. The arsenal also provides specialized training and logistical support for the Department of Homeland Security.