New Reserve and Natl. Guard Center Officially Opens

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The new Army Reserve and National Guard Center in Scranton had its grand opening Thursday more than six months after the reserve starting using it.

The celebration was delayed because of the September floods.

The state-of-the-art facility that houses operations for the Pennsylvania National Guard and Army Reserve was put to the test when soldiers were deployed to parts of our area affected by the flood.

Now, more than six months later, officials just cut the ribbon on the $25 million facility.

Where there was once a burning culm back bordering Scranton and Throop now stands 125,000 square feet of state-of-the-art facilities for more than 1,000 Pennsylvania soldiers.

"Here a wasteland has been turned into and emergency response center, and a storage place, and an office and an armory for the Army Reserve and the Guard. It's a really good story," said Major General Wesley Craig of the Pennsylvania National Guard.

Officials from the Army Reserves and National Guard and local politicians cut the ribbon for the $25 million facility six months after the brand new Reserve center actually opened.

Pomp and circumstance like this had to wait since right after construction finished last August the soldiers had to get immediately to work providing flood relief all over our area.

"We went immediately to 24/7 operations, around the clock for about, I'd say, a 10 day period. This is a tremendous facility because we have a lot of parking that we didn't have at the Scranton armory," added Major General Craig.

The new facility consolidates three Army Reserve and National Guard centers into one. The National Guard used to work out of the Watres Armory in downtown Scranton, nicknamed The Castle. It is over 100 years old and soldiers said it had a lot of problems.

"Watres Armory was really old. All the walls were really thick. If we ever had to network we had to get a hammer drill and go through four feet of brick and concrete. Here everything is already planned out. We just had to plug in and go," said Staff Sergeant Robert Debonise of Tobyhanna.

The new facility is designed for the 21st century and will house reservist and members of the National Guard for training and in times of emergency. All the military vehicles will be housed there too, something soldiers didn't have in the old facilities.

"When we looked at the facilities that closed, we still wanted something within a regional geographic location, and reasonable commuting distance," said Major General William Waff of the U.S. Army Reserves.

The Army Reserve and National Guard are using the new facility mostly on weekends for training as many as 1,000 soldiers can be there at any given time.