Business owners, employees near Fort Knox excited for new Army HQs

Business owners, employees near Fort Knox excited for new Army HQs

RADCLIFF, Ky. (WAVE) - Fort Knox is preparing for a major unit after Tuesday's announcement that the Army's Fifth Corps will bring a three-star general to the post.

It will support the National Defense Strategy as well as U.S. military operations in Europe. It will bring 635 additional soldiers to Kentucky to activate the headquarters by the fall of this year.

Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell talked on the Senate floor about the impact it will have. McConnell said the high-quality facilities at Fort Knox are perfect for the new headquarters.

McConnell also has said Fort Knox is the best choice to meet the nation’s urgent national defense needs.

Folks who live near Fort Knox have always dealt with fears of cuts and closures on the post and what they would mean for local businesses. But, the good news was reason for people living and working in the Radcliff area to celebrate Wednesday. There have been scary times, like in 2005, when Fort Knox was worried about Base Realignment and Closure. It survived but lost its Armor Center and School. Now, the news of a headquarters moving in seems to be pushing away those clouds of uncertainty.

Thanks to its popular Schnitzel and dreamy desserts, German restaurant Deutsche Ecke has stayed in business for 25 years, next door to Fort Knox.

“There were slow days and there were fast days, and when the slow days come, you just have to wait for the fast ones,” Deutsche Ecke owner Karin West said. With the post back on the fast track, West and daughter Kimberly Polk, who happens to be former military, are thrilled the Army Corps headquarters is coming with hundreds of new soldiers, which happens to be their bread and butter.

“They’re the greatest customers,” Polk said. "It’s very exciting. I was raised here in Radcliff, so we saw a lot of stores, companies and businesses around us closing.

“We’re hoping with the soldiers coming in, Radcliff can rebuild.”

From Wilson Road to Dixie Highway, new life in closed storefronts would be a welcome sight.

“It affects everything,” said Robert Epperson, the sales manager at Atlas Cars. “There are a lot of businesses that are just barely getting by.”

Epperson said he remembers the days when vans of soldiers came in to buy from them.

“The sergeant would bring them all in and set them all down and say, ‘Put these guys in a car,’” he said. That was before the tanks moved out in 2010.

“We’ve sold to the military for 37 years, and we lost a lot of that base when everybody left,” Epperson said.

Now, like local shop and restaurant owners, managers at Atlas Cars can’t wait to meet their new customers. The addition of the headquarters under a three-star general brings a new level of stability, West said.

“There have always been rumors that some soldiers are coming back, but nothing happened, but now it finally does,” she said.

Added Radcliff Mayor J.J. Duvall: “With this command, contractors supporting the mission will locate outside the post and this community is prepared for the economic growth.”

Copyright 2020 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.