Marc Dube (from left), project manager for the Maine Army National Guard; Reed Devoe of Eagle Lake-based Devoe Construction; Rob Frank of the Bangor-based WBRC Architects-Engineers; Kevin Freeman, Presque Isle city councilor and industrial council board member; and Major General Douglas A. Farnham, participate in a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday afternoon for the Northern Maine Readiness Center. The estimated $18.5 million facility being built in the Presque Isle Industrial Park is expected to be completed in late 2020 and will house members of the 185th Engineering Support Company of the Maine Army National Guard. Credit: Melissa Lizotte

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Officials from the Maine Army National Guard and the City of Presque Isle were on hand Thursday afternoon for a groundbreaking ceremony on a 43,400 square foot facility that will house the National Guard’s Northern Maine Readiness Center.

Construction for the readiness center, which will replace an older, smaller building in Caribou, began in early October and is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 at an estimated cost of $18.5 million. The facility will house around 85 of the 146 members of the 185th Engineer Support Company and will include a large assembly hall, classrooms, a multi-purpose training room, offices and meeting spaces, a physical fitness room and a two-bay maintenance bay for military vehicles.

The Northern Maine Readiness Center will be located at 6 Edgemont Drive on 10 acres of land within the Presque Isle Industrial Park. Eagle Lake-based Devoe Construction won the bid on the project while WBRC Architects-Engineers of Bangor provided the building design.

Although the project had originally received federal funds for a total of $17.5 million, the construction bids came in at $18.5 million, which temporarily removed a $100,0000 emergency generator and a $350,000 solar photovoltaic system from the budget. Marc Dube, project manager for the Maine Army National Guard, stated that more federal funds have since been approved to cover the costs of both items.

Credit: Melissa Lizotte | Star-Herald

“We feel fortunate to be working with great contractors and designers to build a state of the art facility for the National Guard,” Dube said Thursday.

The readiness center will come on the heels of recent business development at the Presque Isle Industrial Park, noted Presque Isle City Manager Martin Puckett. Within the past several years, the area has seen the expansions of Acme Monaco and Falcon Transportation. He said that the National Guard facility will provide a great economic benefit to the city through the payment of building permits and plumbing and electrical fees.

“It’s been a little over a year since discussions about this building began and city councilors knew that they wanted the National Guard to be a part of the region,” Puckett said. “We’re happy to be the community where such a facility will be showcased.”

Presque Isle city councilor and industrial council board member Kevin Freeman spoke during the groundbreaking ceremony, expressing gratitude that the Maine Army National Guard chose the city as its newest home.

“On behalf of the city and industrial council, I want to express my appreciation for the efforts brought forth by everyone involved to ensure that this facility becomes a centerpiece for the Guard,” Freeman said.

When completed, the Northern Maine Readiness Center will become the largest building project in Presque Isle since the Sargent Family Community Center, which cost $7.9 million, opened in 2016.

The 185th Engineer Support Company currently has facilities in Caribou and Houlton and in the past has assisted local Federal Emergency Management Agency officials in flood relief missions in Aroostook County. Its members are skilled in engineering, plumbing, mechanics, carpentry and masonry.

This story originally appeared on The County.