Sentinel Project Information Meeting Held in Sidney
Cheyenne County Residents Ask Questions, Learn Project Details
November 9, 2023
SIDNEY--On Monday night, the U.S. Air Force and civilian liaisons held a public meeting at the Sidney High School auditorium where details were discussed about the Sentinel Missile Project, and questions were asked by citizens concerning timelines and the effects the multi-year missile systems upgrades would have on their lives. It was about a year ago when the U.S. Air Force and civilian project workers held a town hall style meeting about the Sentinel Project, and this meeting went into more specific details.
Lt. Col. Eric Green, Sentinel Program Integration Officer with the U.S. Air Force's 90th Missile Wing based out of F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, WY, started the meeting with a brief overview of the project, and the goals of Monday night's meeting. There were information stations set up in the auditorium, where citizens could learn about and negotiate real estate transactions that would be required by the project, mapping and Geographical Information Systems of the area and other details. A good number of Air Force personnel were on hand to assist with questions and concerns by county residents.
Numerous questions were asked during the meeting, many concerning the effects of the project on the daily lives of Cheyenne County residents. A question was asked about the roads that the U.S. Air Force would be using during the project, and the effects the heavy vehicles and equipment would have on road quality. The U.S. Air force has agreed to pay the costs of maintenance and improvement on these roads, as agreed upon with the County Commissioners recently. Some roads would have to be widened for access, but all of the work necessary would be covered by the Air Force, and costs reimbursed to the county. A question was asked about the timeline of the project, and an estimated time of completion. The answer is that the project has already started, with mapping and land acquisition being part of the initial steps required for the project. Lt. Col. Green said it would be difficult to estimate the completion date of the project, as much of the work will depend upon acquiring materials through supply chains that are already unpredictable, and costs could escalate due to economic uncertainty and budget concerns. The timeline is still at anywhere between three to five years, but a completion date could be longer than that estimate.
Another question was asked about upgrades to power generation capabilities in the county that would be necessary with the influx of workers and the nature of the project. Green said the U.S. Air Force and Northrop/Grumman, the lead contractor of the project, were still in the design phase, and although they anticipate an additional need for power generation, no concrete plans have been made as of yet. A question was asked about how many launch facilities would be upgraded, and Green responded by saying all 150 launch facilities would be refurbished, including 15 missile alert facilities. The nature of the upgrades include modernization of electrical, computer and software systems as well as infrastructure upgrades to the facilities themselves. Green said that the U.S. Air Force and Northrop/Grumman are committed to using local contractors for work wherever possible.
Concerning the proposed new Workforce Center and the location and timeline for groundbreaking on that facility, Green stated that the location has not yet been determined, but it will most likely be in the Kimball area. The timeline for initial construction has not yet been set. After addressing the crowd of about 100 attendees' questions, the meeting broke down into smaller groups, where residents could learn about elements of the project that were of specific interest to each individual, like real estate negotiations and planning, mapping and locations where work would be done and other details. Green and his team said that they would be available to answer questions and concerns, and a hotline had been established for panhandle residents to address concerns. Questions or concerns can be emailed to [email protected], or resident can call 307-773-3400. The U.S Air Force and Northrop/Grumman have committed to more informational meetings in the future, and they will be announced as the project moves forward.