Community stakeholders celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony at the Michigan National Guard Ishpeming Armory to introduce updates to the building, many of which will make the facility more female friendly.
All 33 Michigan armories and all six armories in the Upper Peninsula are being renovated in this manner, which Lieutenant Colonel Lucas Lonzey said will benefit the Michigan National Guard as a whole.
The improvements include five new female-only restrooms, new showers, lockers and an exercise room for the female National Guard members. A lactation room for breastfeeding women is also under construction.
A new elevator was added to help all members who have difficulty walking up stairs.
Sgt. First Class Chelsea Anderson said the singular female shower at the armory would become extremely overcrowded.
“It feels like there’s more equality in the building,” Anderson said.
Lonzy said the building was constructed in 1962 when the National Guard consisted primarily of male members.
“As societies and cultures change, the Guard changes with that,” Lonzy said.
The total project cost to update all 33 armory buildings in Michigan amounts to $6,280,000 with $3,750,000 allocated by the federal government and $2,530,000 in state funding.
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