The Northern Maine Readiness Center, a new facility for the Maine National Guard's 185th Engineer Support Company, will open in spring 2021. (Melissa Lizotte | The Star Herald photo)
The new $18.3 million Maine National Guard building in Presque Isle will officially open this spring, according to a Guard spokesperson.
Construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the Northern Maine Readiness Center, located on a 10-acre plot at 6 Edgemont Dr., and expect to complete the work in February. The Readiness Center will be the primary location for four full-time staff members and at least 70 of the 100 soldiers in the 185th Engineer Support Company.
Eagle Lake-based Devoe Construction has been constructing the facility since 2018. Members of the 185th Engineer Support Company are expected to begin working and training in the facility in April 2021.
Carl Lamb, public affairs officer of the Maine National Guard, said that a small ribbon cutting ceremony may be held at the Readiness Center in late spring or early summer if health conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic allow such an event to happen. The Readiness Center was originally projected to be finished in December, but factors related to the pandemic briefly delayed some aspects of the project.
"There had been some material and supply acquisition delays and some subcontractors had workers who needed to self-quarantine," Lamb said. "However, no substantial delays have been experienced."
The 185th Engineer Support Company will use the Readiness Center for monthly drills, training and administrative functions. Unlike the former Guard location in Caribou, the Readiness Center will include a vehicle training center, classrooms, a full kitchen, a gym, a large assembly hall, LED lights and a photovoltaic power generation system that is considered more energy efficient than earlier heat and power units.
Lamb said that the Caribou location, a former brewery distribution facility, was aging and becoming more costly to maintain.
The new center also will mark a return to Presque Isle for the Maine National Guard. The city was previously the home of a detachment of soldiers from the Battery C, 1st Battalion and 152nd Field Artillery, which later consolidated into the 185th.
"The 185th's motto, County Thunder, was carried over from the field artillery unit," Lamb said. "A great many Aroostook natives served under that moniker and we are looking forward to re-establishing our roots in Presque Isle."
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