EASTON — With glittering, giant glass windows reaching to the sky, the spacious new National Guard armory on U.S. Route 50 in Easton is officially open.
It’s known by a couple names. These days, it seems to be called the Maryland National Guard Readiness Center, but it’s also known as the Brigadier General (Md) Louis G. Smith Armory.
The new 37,006-square-foot center replaces the previous smaller facility in the same location at the official address 7111 Ocean Gateway.
About 100 people gathered Saturday morning, Aug. 10, to have several ribbon-cuttings.
Guests of honor included a congressman, military brass, and county and town officials. Among the dignitaries, of course, were the soldiers who will call the new armory home.
The old Easton armory had housed many units since it was built in 1974, and the new facility will carry on that tradition.
As of now, two units will call the Easton armory home — D Company, 1-175th Infantry Battalion, and Detachment 1, 729th Composite Supply Company.
Soldiers of these units have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in the past decade, and have served at home in civil support contingency operations, including operations during storms.
The new facility also will house a State Veterans’ Honor Guard Team.
Building features include a massive assembly hall; many classrooms and multipurpose training rooms; a suite of administrative offices; a kitchen and break room; fitness and locker rooms; honor guard administrative offices; a bullet-proof front entry; equipment supply areas; and a detached vehicle maintenance building.
Construction began in summer 2017 and took two years to complete.
It is the first building in the state to feature a work from the Maryland Public Art Initiative, a directive begun in 2005 and funded in 2014 to create a high-quality public art collection at state agency and university sites.
A large mural stretching two stories high greets visitors just inside the building’s entrance and traces the history of the Maryland National Guard from its inception in 1636.
Depicted are the many roles of the guard, from protecting the United States’ interests overseas to saving folks at home during national disasters.
It is the work of internationally known artist and illustrator Mark Stutzman. The “full circle” mural also depicts activities of the honor guard. The military is training for missions constantly, hence the title of the mural is “Always Ready.”
Funding for the mural was provided by the Department of Commerce and the Maryland State Arts Council, among others.
The new Maryland National Guard Readiness Center is a $19.3 million Design-Build project funded with state and federal funds.
The Maryland Department of General Services oversaw the building’s contract execution and administration.
Construction was by Harkins Builders Inc. of Columbia, with the international Stantec architectural firm as the principal architect and Design-Build partner.
Albert Schweizer of the Maryland Army National Guard Construction & Facility Management Office was the project manager.
Those recognized for their contributions from the Maryland Department of General Services included Barry Miller, Ozgur Ozturk, Timothy Case, Bill Lake and Jonathan Little.
From Harkins Builders Inc., the Design-Build contractor, thanks were given to Gary Garofalo, Mike Drummond, Robert Tirocchi, Benjamin Nicholas, Mike Skoglin, Mike Foret and Laura Shilling.
From the Maryland Military Department Installations and Construction Facility Management Office, those who made the new building possible included Col. J. David Dement, Maj. James King, Deputy CFMO, Andrew Yaukey, Dave Andrews and Albert Schweizer.
Keynote addresses were given by members of the official host party, including Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, the adjutant general of Maryland; Brigadier Gen. Janeen L. Birckhead, the assistant adjutant general, Army; and U. S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st.
Nelson Reichart, deputy secretary, Department of General Services, also was in the official host party.
Kudos from the Maryland General Assembly were presented by Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot; Del. Chris Adams, R-37B-Wicomico; and Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore.
Melissa Kelly represented U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. Also present was Talbot County Council President Corey Pack; Easton Mayor Bob Willey; Easton Town Councilman Ron Engle; Tim Case, Bill Lake and Therese Yewell from the Department of General Services; Russell Strickland and Robert Thomas from the Maryland Emergency Management Agency; Brig. Gen. Adam Flasch and Col. Michael Duplechain of the Maryland National Guard; Col. Andrew Collins of the Maryland Army National Guard; Col. Craig Weedon of the 291st DLD; Col. David Dement; CW5 Daniel Chapman; Sgt. Maj. James Nugent; and David Andrews.
For Saturday’s ribbon-cutting, the master of seremonies was Capt. Nicholas Riesett. Music was provided by the 229th Army Band, Maryland National Guard.
The colors were presented by the Easton High School NJROTC color guard. The invocation and benediction were delivered by Chaplain Leona Brown.