Readiness center undergoes remodel
Nearly every room in the Iowa National Guard Readiness Center in Washington is different in some way from what it was a year ago. The readiness center underwent extensive remodeling which includes new furniture and carpet throughout the building and a brand new kitchen.
The new kitchen has been done for a couple of months but the first time it was put to use was Monday night for the All Veterans Dinner. Sfc. Rob Radosevich, the Readiness NCO who works full-time in Washington, was the guest speaker for the dinner and talked about all the work that went into the remodeling.
The attendees to the dinner could see some of the work just from their seats. The large room in the center of the building used for drill instruction is now outfitted with acoustic panels to absorb sound. The panels are 15-20 feet tall and go around the perimeter of the room.
Radosevich said that having a conversation in the drill room is a completely different experience today. Before, the room sounded like a hollow barn with a noticeable echo. That echo is largely gone, thanks to the sound panels.
The kitchen received a complete overhaul. The old kitchen floor was jackhammered out to allow the contractor to install new utilities in the room. The new kitchen has sleek-looking, commercial grade appliances such as a fryer and stove. Radosevich expects the kitchen to last a very long time considering the quality of the appliances and the fact that they will be used rather lightly, once or twice a month.
The remodeling project cost about $1.75 million, which came in under the projected cost. The remodeling process began in 2010 when a group of military officers and civilians informed Washington’s readiness center it was scheduled for an upgrade.
In October 2011, the readiness center was closed for remodeling and opened nearly a year later in late September 2012. While the readiness center was closed, the Washington branch conducted its drilling activities at a newly-built armory in Iowa City.
Many of the changes to the readiness center were designed to make it more energy efficient. It received a new energy-efficient HVAC system. All of the exterior windows were replaced to prevent heat transfers. Some of the rooms have their own temperature controls, which allow the staff to direct heating or cooling to the room only when it’s in use. The building also has new doors and new electrical wiring, which could support a generator if necessary.
Another major change was to the bathrooms. The bathrooms were moved closer to the center of the building from where they were before on the northern end. Perhaps the most significant change of all was that the female bathroom quadrupled in size.
Radosevich said the former female bathroom had become far too small for the number of women enlisted in the unit. Washington is home to a medical company, which Radosevich said is 30 percent female. Until recently, that medical company was the 134th. The 134th has been sent to Camp Dodge in Des Moines and will be replaced in Washington by the 294th medical company, which has 78 members.
After 9/11, the U.S. government sought to install perimeter fences around each readiness center, which would coincide with a building project at that readiness center. Washington’s readiness center now has a perimeter fence, including a gate at the driveway which is closed at night.
The area on the north end of the building has changed substantially. There is now a large room for lifting weights and doing exercises such as P90X. Adjacent to that room is a smaller room with treadmills and other exercise equipment.
The classroom on the west side of the building can now be divided into two rooms with a divider. Next to it is a media room with five computers. Radosevich said that was originally going to be another office but when that fell through he and the rest of the staff were able to think of a better use for the room.
The flag pole outside the building is also brand new. The old flag pole was transported to the All Veterans Memorial Park on Lexington Boulevard.