By Sgt. Brad Staggs, Muscatatuck Urban Training Center Public Affairs NCO
BUTLERVILLE, Ind. – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels can remember what was going to happen to the former Muscatatuck State Developmental Center in Jennings County.
“[Indiana National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Martin] Umbarger and I were reminiscing,” Daniels told Jennings County community leaders and press. “Not that many years ago, there was still talk of just maybe bulldozing the whole place and giving up and he had an idea that sounded good to us.”
That idea turned into the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind., just outside of North Vernon.
In 2005, the state of Indiana turned the abandoned mental facility over to the National Guard in order to create an urban warfare training site unmatched in the Army inventory.
On Wednesday, May 13, Daniels returned to MUTC for three reasons: to take a first-hand look at the progress of reconstruction, get a briefing on the future of the facility, and to hold a round-table meeting with local community leaders and press.
Touring the Muscatatuck facility gave Daniels the opportunity to shake hands and talk with some of the local contractors who are working on reconstruction of buildings for the upcoming Patriot Academy. Daniels took time to find out where each person he shook hands with was from, sometimes hearing his name from unexpected places.
“Hey, Mitch! Saw you on TV last night,” said a contractor working high up on a scaffolding at the Patriot Academy front entrance. “Good job, buddy!”
During the round-table, the biggest complaint that anybody voiced by Harold “Soup” Campbell, Mayor of North Vernon, Ind., was the need for a bypass around the town in order to cut down on the amount of military traffic going through.
“There’s no more fun problems to solve than the ones you cause by progress,” Daniels responded. “That’s a fun problem to have so we’ll work on that one.”
Progress is being made everyday at Muscatatuck. Construction goes on 24/7 at the facility as the goal of becoming one of the Army’s Combined Arms Collective Training Facilities grows closer and the new Patriot Academy readies its doors to open this summer.
“There’s three Vietnam Vets sitting out here,” North Vernon Town Councilman Dave Shaw told Daniels. “We appreciate what the military’s doing today… really appreciate it. Seeing these guys in uniform in our town makes us proud.”
Daniels, using a comparison drawn by Maj. Gen. Umbarger, said that when a farmer plants a hundred seeds, he doesn’t expect them all to take root. “But that’s what has happened here [at Muscatatuck]. The mission of the facility just keeps growing and growing and I couldn’t be prouder of it.”