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Installation commander addresses community leaders at State of the Base

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, addresses community leaders at the annual State of the Base Jan. 27, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The State of the Base luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, addresses community leaders at the annual State of the Base Jan. 27, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The State of the Base luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, addresses community leaders at the annual State of the Base Jan. 27, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The State of the Base luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, addresses community leaders at the annual State of the Base Jan. 27, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The State of the Base luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, receives a coin from Kevin Hougen, Aurora Chamber of Commerce president, during the State of the Base luncheon Jan. 29, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, receives a coin from Kevin Hougen, Aurora Chamber of Commerce president, during the State of the Base luncheon Jan. 29, 2015, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colo. The luncheon gives Buckley Air Force Base leaders the opportunity to connect with community leaders, giving them information on upcoming projects and the base’s economic impact. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski/Released)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Impressive strides have been made over the past few years toward Building a Better Buckley Air Force Base. The construction of a dental clinic, reinstatement of paramedics on base, numerous projects to improve infrastructure and added resources such as on-base college courses, have improved the lives of Airmen and their families as well as contributed to enhancing the Buckley community.

The crowd roared when Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, announced one of his most impressive achievements during his tenure as commander: getting Google to finally recognize Buckley AFB as an Air Force base and not an Air National Guard base. 

"We've been an Air Force Base for 16 years so it took a big cyber campaign," Wagner joked.

All jokes aside, Wagner spoke of the achievements of the base at the annual State of the Base luncheon Jan. 27, 2016, at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Aurora, Colorado. He, along with numerous leaders from Buckley AFB, gathered with community leaders from the surrounding area to discuss the relationship the base has with the surrounding community. 

Wagner highlighted various projects that are continuing to grow and advance Buckley AFB into the future, as well as how these projects are improving the surrounding community.

"We're not only building the Buckley of 2016, but the Buckley of 2036," Wagner said.

Buckley has only used up around one third of the area designated for the base. With over two thirds of the base undeveloped, Buckley has great potential to grow and continue taking on other missions important to national security.

The growth of Buckley is not only important to the military but also the surrounding community.

"Those people who are building the parking lots, those people who are building the additions, those are all folks that we hire from the local community," Wagner said. "This construction, not only in the medical group but also the other military construction projects, is going to continue for the next several years. We hope that that is going to lift the economy of the community as well."

With Buckley AFB contributing just shy of a billion dollars to the local community, it has become an economic asset for the city of Aurora.

"I think we are laying the foundation to be over a billion dollars a year in community impact," Wagner said. "I don't know if we are (Aurora's) biggest employer but we're close. This is a very viable base so it is good news for the state of Colorado, for the city of Aurora, for the county of Arapahoe and for Buckley AFB."

Steve Hogan, mayor of the city of Aurora, recognizes the economic value of having Buckley AFB within his community and understands how lucky Aurora is to host a military installation.

"Well we feel it everywhere," Hogan said. "Whether it is from construction dollars, housing dollars or someone who goes and pays a greens fee to play on a golf course. That economic impact, while it spreads over the whole state eventually, starts in Aurora. It one of the thing we have that no other city in the state of Colorado has and we're pleased to be a part of that community."

The continued relationship between Buckley AFB and the surrounding community continues to grow and foster more opportunities for both sides. With Buckley AFB increasing its mission capabilities, the future holds promising prospects.

"Once again this was an incredible event," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Kruzelnick, 460th Space Wing command chief. "Each and every year it is an incredible event. It isn't possible without the support of the defense council and the rotary club. The military wouldn't be as successful without the support of local community members. From the mayor to anyone with in the community, they welcome us with open arms. Together we work as a family to make the mission happen."
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