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Veterans working to improve Bladen County Training Center

By Erin Smith

A group of veterans volunteered their time this weekend at the Bladen County Training Center at White Lake. The group, called Team Rubicon, plans to be in Bladen County each weekend through the end of February and anyone is welcome to come out and join them.

Doug Skillman, the contact for the event, said, “We’re a group of veterans who are volunteering our time.”

Skillman said the project Team Rubicon is working on consists of refurbishing two buildings at the Training Center. He said the team will be removing and replacing the sheetrock in the ceiling in the dining hall and building rooms and building partitions in the restrooms in the former dormitory building. Skillman said all of the materials needed for the work have been donated.

The team working in White Lake this weekend included, Skillman who is from Sanford, Laura Block from Cary, Glen Taylor from Hampstead, Tim Miller from Wilmington, Kevin Merrill from Wake Forest, and Steven West.

Skillman said he had six volunteers working Saturday and five volunteers scheduled to work on Sunday. He said ideally, a project like this one would have 20 volunteers.

Skillman said, once the refurbishing is completed, the facilities can be utilized to house first responders or survivors during a disaster.

Skillman said Team Rubicon has volunteers who are actively working on projects and in disaster striken areas throughout the United States and around the world. He said this weekend (January 26 and 27) Team Rubicon has teams working on five different projects in North Carolina.

Bladen County Emergency Management Director Bradley Kinlaw said the volunteers with Team Rubicon have been very helpful in making the project a reality.

“We’re very excited to have them here. These two buildngs are projects we have been trying to get excuted for three years now,” said Kinlaw.

He said once the remodeling is completed, the buildings will provide vital suport to the County’s disaster response in the future.

Team Rubicon was founded in 2010 when eight military veterans and first responders set out on a mission to provide aid to those impacted by the earthquake in Haiti.

Block said Team Rubicon learned about the project because they ahave been in active in the disaster recovery efforts in North Carolina. She said they learned that Bladen County needed help for this project and Team Rubicon volunteered their assitance.

“Everyone has been warm and welcoming,” said Block of their time at Bladen County Training Center.

If you would like to volunteer with Team Rubicon, you can email or Skillman can be reached at

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