BANGOR, Maine — Combat medics, military carpenters and masons, instructors and others in the Army National Guard, Army Reserve and on active duty have a new $33 million training facility at which to hone their skills.
The 240th Regiment’s 108,000-square-foot Regional Training Institute, located at 289 Hildreth St. North, is now operational and will be open to the public at 2 p.m. Friday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours.
“The Regional Training Institute provides our soldiers with a state of the art training facility to develop a wide range of military skills,” Lt. Col. Dwaine Drummond, director of facilities engineering, said in a prepared statement.
Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell, adjutant general for the Maine National Guard, will be on hand at the ribbon cutting and open house for the facility, which will provide combat arms training, access to a training simulator and classes in leadership and general studies to soldiers from all over the country.
The new facility was built next to the Bangor Armed Forces Reserve Center, built in the mid-1990s and home to elements of the Maine Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Members of the 240th Training Regiment will staff the training facility.
Bangor was chosen in 2005 as the site for the new Regional Training Institute, and design work began in 2007, Lt. Col. Brian Veneziano said Wednesday.
“It was a five-year project from design to completion,” he said.
The $33 million construction project was broken into two phases, with approximately $14 million funded in 2007 for administrative offices, digital instructional classrooms, a small auditorium and a quarter-mile track.
The second phase, funded as part of a spending bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2009, includes dormitory-style housing for up to 100 soldiers and a cafeteria.
The phase two funding “came at a time when both jobs and revenues from Department of Defense projects were extremely competitive,” Drummond said.
Planners have tried to spread the wealth around the Bangor area by hiring and buying locally, Veneziano said.
“The general contractor was Nickerson & O’Day,” he said, referring to the Brewer company.
Materials for the courses offered are all purchased locally and “our laundry is done by a local laundromat and cleaning is done by a local company,” Veneziano said. “We’ve definitely pumped in economic revenue into the greater Bangor area.”
The first monthlong class, which included soldiers from Tennessee, Ohio, Massachusetts and Maine, ended last week. The trainees “were let loose on Friday night and hit the town,” eating out and spending their money at area businesses, Veneziano said.
The school will offer up to eight annual courses for military personnel trained in carpentry and masonry, as well as classes for Army training instructors and nationally accredited combat medic education classes, among others.
“We’re not the only carpentry-masonry course in the nation, but we’re the only one in the region,” Veneziano said. “We teach a bunch of other classes as well.”
Before the Bangor facility was completed, most of the Army National Guard’s training in Maine was conducted at Camp Keyes in Augusta.