AUGUSTA — The Maine Army National Guard has received two national awards for achievements that aren’t always associated with the military: efficient maintenance and construction practices and environmental stewardship.

For the 2013 fiscal year, the Maine Army National Guard received the Fred Aron Award for Excellence in Facilities Programs as well as the National Guard Bureau’s annual environmental award. Neither award has come to Maine in recent memory, if ever.

Col. Dwaine E. Drummond, the Maine Guard’s director of facilities engineering, said Tuesday that the work that led to the recognitions has been ongoing for years.

“There are a lot of moving pieces,” said Drummond. “You can’t win these awards without excelling in all of the areas that they evaluate.”

Gov. Paul LePage hailed the awards as evidence of how fiscal conservatism and top-notch performance can happen at the same time.

“The importance of fiscal stewardship is critical, and the Maine Army National Guard has demonstrated there are always ways to improve programs by managing resources better,” said LePage in a written statement. “More importantly, this can be done without losing quality of service. All of the men and women of the Maine Army National Guard should be proud of their efforts.”


Drummond said that part of the reason for the awards is that for such a small state, Maine has been busy during the past five years on major construction projects. Those have included a large addition to an aviation flight facility, the construction of a regional training institute and a new aviation readiness center, all in Bangor, as well as an engineer and battalion readiness center in Brunswick.

In addition, the organization was lauded for its maintenance of 29 individual facilities across Maine — many of them aging significantly — as well as another 11 training sites. That work is done for the most part without borrowing, said Drummond

“We have found ways to do renovations to our aging facilities within the financial constraints of our operations and maintenance budget, which has an annual ceiling of $750,000,” said Drummond. “That sounds like a lot of money but it isn’t when you look at buildings that are 50 or 60 years old and roofs that are well beyond their life expectancy.”

In 2013, Mainers approved a $14 million bond for Army National Guard facilities improvements, but Drummond said his organization is just beginning to spend that money on major capital projects such as replacing heating systems and upgrading structural deficiencies. The state money will draw down up to another $14 million in federal matching funds.

As for the environmental award, Drummond said it results from a rigorous and well-considered spectrum of directives set at the federal level and a dedicated staff in Maine that hasn’t seen much turnover in recent years.

“We don’t get nervous when the Department of Environmental Protection tells us they’re going to come and visit,” he said. “You can probably imagine what a relief that is. … It’s really the culmination of having the right systems in place and having the right people to operate those systems. Those of us who are here now have the good fortune of having a pat on the back but it’s an organization-wide recognition.”

Drummond said the fact that Maine’s military facilities and community are tiny compared to most other states makes the awards sweeter.

“It reflects on the program that we run in a small state like Maine, in an environment that isn’t easy to manage with the weather and heating bills,” said Drummond. “We may be up here in the corner of the country but for at least this year, we’re the best.”

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