The Utah National Guard has placed third in the Army National Guard's Communities of Excellence.

Lt. Gov. Val Oveson and Maj. Gen. John L. Matthews, adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, are expected to lead a contingent of Utah guard members to a May 23 ceremony at the Pentagon to receive the award.The program was originally adopted by the Army to improve its installations to benefit soldier training. National Guard and Army Reserve commands in 22 states are now involved.

North Carolina placed first in the contest and Louisiana placed second.

Modern and well-used space at the Guard's new Draper headquarters complex, its family assistance program and community support program helped the Utah National Guard win the award, said Warrant Officer Terry Haslam. "The relationship between the Guard and the community was an integral part of our plan because the community is where our soldiers live," he said.

Judging categories included medical, personnel, comptroller and logistics services and facilities, training, safety, inspections and human resources.

The $100,000 prize that accompanies the third-place award will be used for a project designed to further improve service to Utah Guard members and others who use Guard facilities.