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Oregon Military Department construction chief Jim Willeford stands in the assembly hall of the new Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center in Dallas Friday.
September 04, 2012
DALLAS -- The Dallas-based Oregon Army National Guard's 162nd Engineering Company should be packing up boxes in preparation to move to its new home.
The Col. James Nesmith Readiness Center on Westview Drive in Dallas was nearly complete Sept. 1 and ready for the unit to move in this weekend.
The elegant-looking center is the latest and greatest in military facilities in the state, said Jim Willeford, the Oregon Military Department's construction chief.
"We couldn't be more pleased with the facility," he said. "It's turning out really well. We are finishing on time, finishing on budget. Everybody's happy ... And the community is going to derive great benefit from the facility."
The 162nd has been sharing a facility with another unit in Salem since its former armory in downtown Dallas was condemned in 2008. Earlier this year, the old armory was torn down.
Willeford said the 162nd soldiers have been visiting the site frequently in recent weeks, eagerly awaiting completion.
"We've done a lot of tours," Willeford said, adding he can understand their excitement. "In my career, I was in uniform for 20 years and never, never (served in) a building like this."
Plans to replace the small and aging downtown armory were discussed for more than a decade prior to groundbreaking on the new center.
"(The former armory) was our oldest facility and clearly inadequate to our needs," Willeford said, adding the tipping point was when it was condemned.
The $18 million in funding needed for a new center was secured in late 2009 and designing began the next year.
The nearly 40,000-square-foot facility began taking shape off Westview Drive in June 2011.
Willeford said there's still work to be done before the building is ready for its official opening ceremony on Oct. 12. Part of the last-minute work will include a historical display about the unit, its former armory, and the new center's namesake, Col. James Nesmith.
"That work will continue," Willeford said. "We are hoping to get it done by the dedication Oct. 12."
* Size: 39,813 square feet. Includes a 5,800-square-foot assembly area, a full-scale commercial kitchen, classroom space and gym facility.
* Address: 12830 Westview Drive.
* Cost: About $18 million, from federal and state sources.
* Environmental impact: Designed to be rated Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold.
Of note: The assembly hall, kitchen, and classrooms will be available for event rentals. A dedication ceremony is scheduled for Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.