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National Guard armory at Heartland
This architect’s rendering shows the National Guard center on the Heartland Community College campus. The 18,000-square-foot building will house the National Guard 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Soldiers trained there will provide support for domestic and international operations. (Courtesy photo)

NORMAL -- Groundbreaking for the Illinois Army National Guard readiness center at Heartland Community College is a year away, but trustees on Tuesday saw preliminary drawings of what the building will look like.

The board was shown architectural renderings of a $16.51 million facility that will be built in the Prairie style common to the other campus buildings. The red brick building with a pitched metal roof will be two stories at one end and one at the other, and a large, glass lobby will connect the two.

Heartland board Chairman Gregg Chadwick said he was pleased with the proposed architecture of the building.

"Early on, I had a fear of it fitting in with the campus," he said. "I pictured some sort of armory building, but this is beautiful. Not only does it fit in with campus, it can be a showcase for the campus."

The 18,000-square-foot facility will house the National Guard 404th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. Guard members trained there will be able to provide support for a variety of domestic and international missions, including firefighting, engineering, communications, and military police.

National Guard Maj. Brad Leighton said Normal's proximity to major interstates and airports makes it an ideal place for the facility.

"A good example is the winter storm we had in Chicago. Now we've got the flooding in southern Illinois, so there you go. We've responded to both ends of the state in just a few months," said Leighton.

The MEB, to be located at the corner of Millennium Avenue and Raab Road, will house 22 full-time employees plus up to 400 guardsmen and on heavy training weekends. During the week, Heartland will have access to the six classrooms in the one-story section and 200 to 300 parking spaces.

Groundbreaking is slated for spring 2012, and completion is expected 18 to 20 months later.

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