Seabees support Elizabethtown-Lewis Ambulance Squad

LEWIS In the same mold of an old-fashioned barn-raising, some of the Navys best came to help out the Elizabethtown-Lewis Emergency Squad last weekend. From April 25-27, ten members of the Navy Seabees volunteered to participate in Operation Community Connections, helping to construct the new home for the ELES Ambulance Squad. The ambulance squad building, located between the hamlets of Elizabethtown and Lewis, is currently under construction. The $227,000 project is slated to open by this autumn. The Seabees are the construction battalions of the United States Navy. The Seabees have a history of building bases, bulldozing and paving thousands of miles of roadway and airstrips, and accomplishing myriad other construction projects in a wide variety of military theatres dating back to World War II. Leslie Fleury, a member of the ELES and a second class petty officer in the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 27 (NMCB27) reserves, coordinated the volunteer weekend. The idea came to me, and I had to go through the channels, said Fleury. This is exciting for me - these are two of my biggest passions, and theyve clicked together. The Seabees volunteered to help with electrical work, laying computer and telephone lines, and carpentry. The work the Seabees performed saved ELES about $20,000 on the project. I cant say enough how much we appreciate them god bless them, said Charlie Martin, the project manager for the new ambulance building. This is hours upon hours of work. If they werent here, it would put a drain on us. Martin said after the work weekend, the interior was about 65 percent finished. The Seabees and community volunteers roughed in the heating, hot water and electrical systems, and performed most of the dry walling. Along with the Seabees, the effort was supported by all available members of the emergency squad, who either helped with construction, or volunteered to prepare food for the Seabees. The Lewis Fire Department provided space for the volunteers to bunk. To commemorate the work-weekend, the Seabees were presented with Operation Community Connections logos, designed by Fleurys daughter, Westport Central School student Carly Vaughan. The same logo, which celebrates the squad and Navy volunteers, will be painted as a mural inside the ambulance building once the structure is completed. Training Petty Officer Andy Rojas, of Carmel, led the Seabees. Seabees from Vermont, Albany, Watertown and the Catskills attended the weekend. He said the Seabees were happy to help, since both groups shared a philosophy of serving their neighbors. CMC Norman LeBlanc of Bennington, Vt., agreed. Theres a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves, said LeBlanc. Fleury and the rest of the Seabees are preparing to be deployed in support of the global war on terror in June. Martin and Fleury cited the work of local volunteers Gil Andres, Ed Cross, Kevin Giraud, Pete Evens and Gary Cox who all volunteered their hours and professional expertise for the project. ELES President Patty Bashaw said the squad still needed to raise $25,000 to complete the project. A capital campaign letter was sent out this weekend to residents of Elizabethtown, Lewis and New Russia. The next stage is Philip Moore Construction of Keeseville coming in to pour the cement flooring. Martin said many of the local contractors had been very supportive, with some donating the labor at cost.

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