Renovated and expanded National Guard facility opens in Westminster

Renovated and expanded National Guard facility opens in Westminster
Captain Marcus Miller addresses the 29th Military Police Company In the newly renovated armory on Hahn Road in Westminster. (KEN KOONSSTAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Although it has been in use for two months, the official opening of the Maj. Gen. Henry C. Evans Readiness Center in Westminster comes today, when the Maryland National Guard dedicates the renovated and expanded facility on a 10-acre location on Hahn Road.

"We're really proud of the facility," said Col. Charles Kohler, a spokesman for the Guard. "We really feel it serves the needs of the unit and the community well."


In the past, the building at 350 Hahn Road housed an artillery unit, but now it will be inhabited by a military police unit — the 29th Military Police Company. The unit traces its history back to the 29th Infantry Division, which landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France, on D-Day — June 6, 1944, Kohler said.

The Military Police Corps is one of the youngest branches of the U.S. Army, created in 1941, just before the United States entered World War II, Kohler said.

According to Kohler, the unit worked closely with Carroll County officials during Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and provided assistance during the unrest in Baltimore this year following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Kohler said the unit performs police functions for the military such as escorting convoys, handling detainee operations, providing traffic operations support, area security for bases and resettlement for police intelligence operations.

Because it is a military police unit, members can provide additional support to local law enforcement agencies in the event of an emergency, said Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Beyard, senior enlisted leader for the Maryland National Guard.

"That is something that in the past didn't exist," Beyard said.

The expanded facility will accommodate about 30 additional personnel with about 130 people in total working from the facility, Kohler said.

Kohler said the former building, built in 1980, was undersized and while there was a women's restroom, there were no locker rooms for women. The renovated facility will have classrooms, storage space and locker rooms for men and women, he said.

"It's a dual-gender unit; it will provide more opportunities for both genders," Beyard said. .

The parking lot has been expanded to accommodate additional military vehicles, including Humvees, and armored security vehicles, Kohler said.

Although some National Guard armorys provide rental space for the public, Kohler said it has not yet been determined whether the facility will provide rental space. In the wake of a shooting in which four Marines and one Navy officer were killed at a National Guard recruiting center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Kohler said the National Guard is reviewing its security procedures and is hesitant to allow the public into their facilities.

"It has yet to be determined if there is a need," Kohler said. "It was not used for rentals before."

A groundbreaking ceremony was held May 22, 2013, for the building, but the approximately $7.1 million project, built with federal funds, was planned about five years prior, Kohler said.

"It's been in the works for quite a while," Kohler said.

Beyard, who has lived in Westminster for 30 years, said he often drove by the facility to run errands during the renovation.


"It's always interesting to see the final product," Beyard said. "I think it's a big win for the community — the unit will provide additional support to the community."