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CARLIN — A new Nevada National Guard facility opened its doors Thursday at the location of the former University of Nevada, Reno Fire Science Academy.

The 5,376-square-foot Elko County Readiness Center cost $8.6 million in federal funds and $7.9 million in state funds to construct, including improvements to the current facility.

“I’ve been working on this for a long time, so I thought this was a unique way to use the facility we had in Carlin,” Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a phone interview Wednesday with the Free Press. “... It’s a real asset to the National Guard.”

The primary users will be the 593rd Transportation Company.

“It’s a state-of-the-art armory,” said Brig. Gen. Bill Burks of the Nevada National Guard. “... This will be the largest armory we have in Nevada.”

The company will store one-third of its trucks at the facility. The building includes high security weapons storage of small arms, radios, encryption devices and truck-mount weapons, said public affairs spokesman Sgt. Erick Studenicka. Administrative offices and a family support office are also available.

“Nevada is No. 1 in regards to support of the military,” Burks said.

The original classroom and fire station buildings have been remodeled as a learning center.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday morning, elders from the Te-Moak Tribe blessed the land.

“This was the first ceremony for the Nevada National Guard that featured the Native Americans,” Studenicka said.

For Burks, who is also the chairman of the Guard’s diversity effort, the blessing was an important part of the ceremony.

“It’s just a way of tying the present with the past,” Burks said. “It’s a different time, a different era, and it’s time we embrace our heritage.”

Reid said he believes the remoteness of the area will be a benefit.

“The reason this works very well is it’s a training facility,” he said. “It’s easy to get to from all over the state because you’re not bringing in large numbers of people.”

In looking at the future of the facility, Burks expressed interest in working with the mines.

“I hope to team with mines in the area to enhance our package,” he said.

For example, miners could train in a rubble pile maze, as well as the National Guard members stationed there.

“The potential here is unlimited,” Burks said.

The project architects were H & K Architects of Reno. The contractor was Q & D Construction out of Sparks.

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