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News | April 20, 2017

U.S. Army engineers build clinics, school in Belize during Beyond the Horizon 2017

By Staff Sgt. Fredrick Varney 131st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

U.S. service members and their Belizean counterparts are working on several different construction projects throughout the country of Belize as part of Beyond the Horizon 2017, which runs from March 25 until June 17.

 U.S. Southern Command, in cooperation with the Government of Belize, has coordinated the completion of five construction projects that include a new emergency room and incinerator at Western Regional Hospital in Belmopan, medical clinics in Ladyville and Double Head Cabbage, and a new school building in St. Matthews.

 Reservists on two-week rotations will complete the majority of the work at the construction sites. For continuity, full-time project managers will supervise until the completion of the jobs.

 Soldiers from the 808th Engineer Company based in Houston, Texas, are currently building the new health clinic at Double Head Cabbage.

“Our engineers are currently building a medical clinic that is 89 feet long by 27 feet wide that will replace the old one here,” said 1st Lt. Kevin Stafford, the project supervisor with the 808th. “The medical clinic will have 13 rooms and provide medical services to over 2,000 people in the area.”

Stafford said the old clinic had only two small rooms and was not adequate to meet the healthcare needs of the local population.

“This medical clinic will have a huge impact on the local community,” said Stafford. “There are two local schools in the area and the clinic will be close enough that children can walk there to receive treatment when they are not feeling well.”

Cpl. Moncerato Lerma, an interior electrician with the 808th, said the new clinic in Double Head Cabbage has been very well received by the local community.

 Lerma added that he has learned a great deal working alongside Belizean engineers on the job site.

“It’s been an awesome experience working with our Belizean counterparts,” said Lerma. “I have enjoyed learning more about Belizean culture and seeing how they operate as a team to accomplish their construction projects.”

Air Force Master Sgt. Frank Monacelli, the project foreman with the 911th Civil Engineering Squadron, is currently overseeing construction projects in the capital city of Belmopan. Airmen and Marines are working together there to build an emergency room and a new incinerator at the Western Regional Hospital.

“This building will be an expansion of the emergency room here in Belmopan,” said Monacelli. “The additional structure will provide more space for healthcare providers and alleviate long lines at the main hospital.”

The smaller structure will house the incinerator, where hospital staff will be able to safely dispose of medical waste.

 Monacelli said their goal is to have all the masonry blocks up and grouted by the end of the second rotation April 22.

“The next rotation will come in and start working on the interior walls of the building and putting on the roof,” said Monacelli.

 Monacelli mentioned the additional emergency room space would significantly impact the community in a positive manner.

“I think it will be a huge impact,” said Monacelli. “It seems like they will be able to treat more patients, take care of the locals, and bring more people into the facility.”

All five construction projects are scheduled for completion in mid-June during the final rotation of Beyond the Horizon 2017.