BRIGHAM CITY -- The Utah National Guard held a ceremony Wednesday evening to formally reopen Eskelsen Hall, the Utah National Guard Armory in Brigham City. Box Elder officials used the event as an opportunity to pledge their support to servicemen and veterans in Box Elder County.
Brigham City Mayor Dennis Fife and members of the city council signed the Utah Community Covenant in a meeting April 7. Box Elder County commissioners Brian Shaffer, LuAnn Adams and Ryan Tingey signed the covenant at last night's ceremony, as did the mayors of several communities around the county.
By signing this covenant, they entered into a United States Army program developed to strengthen the relationship between cities and towns and the service members who live in them. While the Community Covenant is operated within the Army, it is geared to all branches of military service.
Shaffer challenged each member of the community to learn about the needs of the service members in their community and to inspire their friends and neighbors to do the same.
"The freedoms we enjoy are a direct result of what they have done for us," he said.
A Wall of Honor in the Brigham City offices displays photos and information about local service members. However, Executive Assistant Andrea Clark said the wall is getting outdated, and she invites the community to bring in information about members of their family who are currently serving in the military.
The armory has been closed since February 2010 to upgrade the facility. Since then, the building has seen more than $1 million in upgrades and improvements, including a new asphalt parking area and loading ramp; new windows, paint, carpet, ceiling tile and landscaping; heating and cooling system upgrades; expansion to restrooms and improvements to communication and data-system infrastructure.
In addition, a new covered storage facility was built to house the armory's M109A6 Paladin howitzers. Modifications were also made to bring the Armory into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Eskelsen Hall was built in the 1950s and is home to Detachment 1, Alpha Battery, 1-145th Field Artillery. This reserve unit deployed three years ago on a security mission at Camp Bucca, Iraq, but Public Affairs Officer Lt. Col. Hank McIntire said there are no known plans for another deployment in the near future.
Gen. Brian Tarbet addressed the group after the signing and said Eskelsen Hall is a sacred place to him.
"I stood here with a family who lost a soldier in '05, and I have stood here with two soldiers who were injured, one of them a Brigham City resident," Tarbet said. "This is a special place for me and for our soldiers."
This renovation project used part of $12 million authorized by the state Legislature to complete similar projects all over the state.