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Minnesota National Guard
Ground broken for Emergency Management Center at Camp Ripley

CAMP RIPLEY - Ceremonial shovels were hefted on a sunny, albeit chilly Thursday morning at Camp Ripley as ground was officially broken for the Emergency Management Training Center

Officials noted the idea behind the investment is a joint training facility for civilian and military use covering a wide range of training for emergency management response The $5 million center is being constructed next to the recreation center at Camp Ripley

"I think this gives Minnesota the capability, the capacity to be more ready for disasters in the future than it has been in the past" said Brig Gen Joseph Kelly, the assistant adjutant general-Joint Staff, Minnesota National Guard

Officials gathered Thursday at Camp Ripley for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Emergency Management Training Center being constructed at the camp Officials said the facility will give the state the capacity for greater preparation in emergency response planning and training

After the ceremony, Michel Wetzel, Morrison County sheriff, said the training center will be a valuable addition "It's a good deal for the whole state, it's especially good for Morrison County and Crow Wing County"

Officials from Camp Ripley, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, law enforcement, DNR, State Patrol, emergency managers, Department of Transportation and others were present at the groundbreaking ceremony One of the lessons in the post 9/11 world is the benefit of training that cuts across agency lines in a combined effort, officials said

Maj Kent O'Grady, representing the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said the project has been in the works for years The training center was designed to serve everyone from elected officials as they plan for possible emergency scenarios down to the front line response with firefighters, law enforcement, emergency medical staff and military personnel

O'Grady noted the 35W bridge collapse in the Twin Cities and said effective handling of disasters doesn't come together in short order in the aftermath, but comes together because of preparation and emergency management training

"This project is an illustration in good government," said Kris Eide, Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management director

Work has begun on the facility this fall but the bulk of the effort is expected to begin in the spring O'Grady said an anticipated opening is in October or November of 2011 The Legislature bonded for the combined training facility in 2008 O'Grady said the goal is to have a better coordinated emergency response

The facility will include a federally funded improvised explosive device defeat training room IEDs, also known as roadside bombs, have been used extensively against soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan One of the areas officials said they will still be working on is funding for housing so people who do come for training will have accommodations

The training center may be used by cities, counties or law enforcement, along with the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility, to develop emergency response plans for many scenarios, including hostage situations or large scale emergencies, Camp Ripley Commander Lt. Col. Scott St Sauver previously reported

Kelly said when bad things happen people fall back on their training and the future training center marks not a collaboration between entities but is about building relationships between people Kelly said the training center will be a core part of Camp Ripley as a joint training facility

"We are excited about the future of this partnership," Kelly said "Camp Ripley is a very rare and precious place to train our soldiers to go do the work that our nation needs done With the Emergency Management Training Center as kind of the core and all of the other things we have planned and envisioned here, I think Camp Ripley will also be a rare and special place for public safety disciplines and emergency managers and others to come and train and be more ready"

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at reneerichardson@brainerddispatch.com or 855-5852
Senior Reporter
Friday, November 5, 2010

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