Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 20, 2014

National Guard center in Washington renovated

By XIOMARA LEVSEN | Apr 23, 2013

WASHINGTON, Iowa (GTNS) – Members of the Iowa Army National Guard 294th Medical Company have a newly renovated home.

On Sunday the unit had a rededication ceremony and open house for the Washington Readiness Center.

1st Sgt. Paul Ramirez couldn’t be happier with the renovations. He has been a member using that building since 1987.

“The building was just old,” Ramirez said.

He said the building had a single shower and bathroom for the females. The women in the unit would have to take turns using the shower and the bathroom.

“Now we’ve got a nice full bay of showers,” he said. “They actually have a decent place to be.”

Ramirez also said the mechanics have a separate building they can use.

Before the mechanics were using the inside of the readiness center to fix the vehicles.

The unit used to use the rifle range as their classroom, Ramirez said. Now the room has been modernized with dividers.

“It’s been a big difference for us because now we have a chance to have a classroom but can also have our company there for meetings,” Ramirez said. “It makes things just easier for them (the soldiers) to do their job. Running the class it makes things so much easier for them. We have screens for them to project videos on.”

The exercise room was also fitted with new equipment, Ramirez said. Now the soldiers have a place to go to exercise to keep them physically fit for the Army National Guard.

Members of the community, including Washington Mayor Sandra Johnson, and state officials from the Iowa National Guard, including Brig. Gen. Janet Phipps, and Col. Scott Ayers, and Rep. Dave Loebsack, attended the rededication ceremony.

“I was in here some time ago,” Loebsack said. “It’s fair to say it looks a lot better than it did before and it really is quite amazing.”

Loebsack said, despite the sequester, Congress and the president have still given federal funds to help renovate National Guard centers like this one.

“We’re going to need facilities like these, upgraded facilities, new facilities, facilities for modern times, so folks can get the proper training and be ready in the event they are sent abroad on yet another mission,” Loebsack said.

Johnson echoed Loebsack’s comments.

“Today’s rededication ceremony is more than an opportunity to thank our soldiers who serve,” Johnson said. “It is an occasion to recognize the significance of both the Iowa Army National Guard and this installation.”

Until recently, facilities were commonly called armories, Johnson said. Now the guard calls them readiness centers because the guard assists with natural disasters like snowstorms and floods. They also stand ready for deployment, Johnson said.

“The Washington facility is one of 42 National Guard readiness centers in Iowa,” Johnson said. “Like the guard itself, these readiness centers serve more than one mission. They are a place where soldiers come to train and then maintain at readiness.”

Ayers, Director of Installation Management for the Iowa Army National Guard, said it is important for the facilities to reflect the quality and capability from where they recruit from, local high schools and colleges.

“With this project I think that we’ve reached that standard,” Ayers said. “This is now the 29th armory we’ve been able to renovate.”

Ayers said the 17,000-square foot building was constructed in 1984. The project completely renovated the building. It now has a recruiting office, family support office, a new classroom, supply and storage areas, and a newly refurbished kitchen.

The cost of the project was nearly $2 million dollars. Fifty percent came from federal and 50 percent came from state funds, Ayers said.

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