Senator visits Las Vegas to inspect readiness center

As he walked inside the Nevada Army National Guard’s new $27 million Las Vegas Readiness Center on Tuesday, Sen. Harry Reid gazed at the brick and stone motif along the hallways and thought about the hundreds of citizen-soldiers who will train there.

"The brick and mortar looks good," said Reid, D-Nev. "But it’s what happens inside the building that counts."

Reid along with Guard officials and representatives from the rest of Nevada’s delegation dedicated the center Tuesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. It will be fully occupied in June after the new furniture arrives.

During the ceremony, Reid commended the Guard soldiers who volunteered to serve at home and overseas.

"So I think it’s incumbent upon those of us who have the ability to recognize the contributions they make to our country to do what we can to make their jobs better, to allow them to train better, to have better equipment," he said. "That’s what this building is all about. So they can be prepared."

On weekends and during some longer periods each year, nearly 400 Nevada Guard soldiers from a half-dozen units including a medical detachment and a signal company will use the Las Vegas Readiness Center to train and prepare for responding to fires, floods and other disasters.

Many, based on the 70 percent of the state’s militia who have been called up to support the overseas wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and to help stateside with homeland security, will use the building for deployments and homecomings.

Completion of the 80,000-square-foot building, which was 10 years in the works from design to land acquisition to construction, couldn’t have come at a better time, said Nevada’s adjutant general, Air Force Maj. Gen. Cindy Kirkland.

The other armories in Henderson and Clark County, she said, are too crowded for the expanding National Guard force in Southern Nevada.

"I have to tell you," Kirkland said. "It’s been like shoving 10 pounds into a five-pound sack."

The readiness center is the centerpiece of a 45-acre spread in the southern part of the Las Vegas Valley. Located northwest of the intersection of Silverado Ranch Boulevard and Arville Street.

During the ceremony, Kirkland thanked Reid for securing $15 million in funding through the Federal Military Construction Program. The Nevada Legislature appropriated $12 million.

"You’ve got a lot of smiling soldiers out here that are going to love working in this grand palace," she said.

Brig. Gen. Frank Gonzales, Nevada’s Army National Guard commander, said it is important to never forget that "our soldiers help Nevadans in a time of crisis but we’ve also asked a lot of our soldiers recently (to serve) in the global war on terrorism."

"As we keep going as a nation," Gonzales said, "we have a lot of responsibilities placed on us. We needed to be able to train to ensure that they’re ready."

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