Home City park After 35 years of sharing Beardstown Arsenal, National Guard returns key to town as unit moves

After 35 years of sharing Beardstown Arsenal, National Guard returns key to town as unit moves


BEARDSTOWN – It was a historic day for the city of Beardstown on Tuesday with the Illinois National Guard, the Illinois Department of Military Affairs and the Beardstown Park District holding the final leg of the Guard’s move – the transfer of the key to the armory at the park district.

“The Armory you see here represents more than bricks and mortar. From the start, it represented a community partnership that has worked well for 35 years and will continue to thrive as the Beardstown Park District takes ownership of the building. “said the brigadier. said General Mark Alessia. “While transferring ownership of this armory to the community of Beardstown represents another step in this partnership, it should not be interpreted as the Illinois National Guard ‘leaving’ Beardstown or that Beardstown is less important to our Guard. national.”

The ceremony at 1801 Wall St. also featured members of the Guard, the city’s Park District and Mayor Tim Harris.

“I’m looking forward to this transition. Deion (Summers) thinks it will be a great asset here for us and we appreciate what the Guard have done for us all the years. I think it’s going to be a big improvement for all of Beardstown and we’re all very proud of that and we have a lot of good people working here and a lot of great plans,” Harris said.

The National Guard will still maintain a recruiting office on site, the rest of the facility will be handed over to the Beardstown Park District for use, which currently uses part of it.

Summers, the Beardstown Park District Manager, was thrilled to now have more access to building space to run programs for community members, by expanding the Schewe Community Center.

“We have new ideas to bring into the building,” Summers said. “We want to increase adult programs. We don’t have a lot for seniors.”

Now having access to more rooms, Summers said they can add programs like yoga and have them in smaller rooms instead of the large gym.

They also plan to update the center’s availability for area residents with increasing hours by being open longer on Saturdays and being open on Sundays so that the center can be available for those who work during the week.

The National Guard has occupied the building for the past 35 years, which is located in Roy Roberts Park and cost $1.5 million to build — $907,000 from the federal government, $350,000 from the state and a anonymous donation of $250,000 from a Beardstown resident – ​​officially opened November 7, 1987.

For the National Guard, more than 50 soldiers from the 616th Engineer Utilities Detachment will move operations to Macomb.

“The community is getting more space to run vital programs for its residents and the Illinois National Guard is able to get rid of excess space that will allow us to invest in the modern infrastructure needed to carry out well our mission in the future,” said Alessia.

For Summers, who said there is a member rate to join the center or day rates available, he plans to roll out programs slowly over the coming year and beyond.

“Not here to make money,” he said. “It’s there for the community.”