| Minnesota National Guard stays busy at Arden Hills site
Work is nearly complete on the Minnesota National Guard's $15 million, 61,000-square-foot Readiness Center, located on former Army land in Arden Hills. (Jacobs was the architect.) The Guard meanwhile plans to start work in September on a $29 million, 98,000-square-foot field maintenance shop, shown in this rendering from BWBR Architects.
The future of the former Twin Cities Army Ammunition plant site in Arden Hills might be still up in the air, but at least part of the area already has a bright future as a Minnesota Army National Guard location.
The Guard is finishing construction work on a $15 million, 61,000-square-foot armory, now called readiness centers, and plans to seek construction bids soon for a $29 million, roughly 98,000-square-foot, maintenance shop for the Guard's vehicles.
Work on the field maintenance shop is expected to start in September, with likely completion in February 2013. The maintenance shop won't be the end of the work either. The Guard also plans to build a second readiness center, a $17 million project including about 70,000 square feet, starting in 2013.
The idea, more than a decade in the making, is to provide a more centralized location for Guard training operations around the Twin Cities, said Col. Bruce Jensen, the Minnesota National Guard's construction and facilities management officer.
"It provides an area for them to do more small-unit type training," Jensen said.
The projects are also providing much-needed work for a construction industry still reeling in the recession's aftermath. "We'd like to have more work in the private sector, but we'll take any work," said David Semerad, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota.
Jensen didn't have estimates about how many construction jobs are involved with the projects. But Dianne Holte - whose Ramsey-based Holte Contracting partnered with Calgary, Alberta-based Graham Group as the general contractor estimates - at least 100 construction workers labored on the readiness center.
Besides work, the readiness center provided Holte's company with experience. Graham provided mentorship for Holte under a U.S. Small Business Administration program. Holte generally works on projects that are less than $3 million, but Holte thinks her firm may take on larger projects in the future.
"You have to keep reinventing yourself just to stay in business and survive," Holte said.
The readiness center will be mostly completed in October, after which it will be a home base for more than 200 troops of the 147th Human Resources Company, currently based in Roseville, and the 1135th Forward Support Company, currently based in Austin, Minn.
"There will be units assigned to that facility, and they will actually drill there on the weekends. There will be some fulltime support personnel that will work there," Jensen said.
The move will free up some sorely needed space at the units' respective armories.
More efficiency is also the name of the game for the field maintenance shop.The Minnesota National Guard is still operating out of facilities that are decades old, including armories constructed in the early 20th century when internal combustion engines were more of a curiosity than a military tool.
After construction finishes in February 2013, the maintenance shop will have 18 repair bays and 35 staff working on everything from Humvees to transport trucks.
All of the work is taking place on 300 acres on the southern border of a total 1,500 acres that the Guard acquired from the Army in 2001 after the closure of the ammunition plant. The Guard plans to leave alone the remaining 1,200 acres, using it for training maneuvers.
The Minnesota National Guard land is to the east of hundreds of acres still under the control the Army. Ramsey County officials have been promoting the Army land, east of Highway 10 and north of Highway 96, as the site of a potential Minnesota Vikings stadium.
Team officials have said they hope the Legislature will consider a stadium bill in a coming special session.
Story by Chris Newmarker
Finance & Commerce
18 July 2011
Finance & Commerce
682nd Engineer Battalion receives community send-off
Posted: 2015-10-09 01:25 PM
WILLMAR, Minn. - The sea of red in the Willmar High School gym Thursday was more than a show of support for the Willmar High Cardinals. Families and friends of the 682nd Engineer Battalion, wearing red unit t-shirts to Remember Everyone Deployed, gathered to send off the Willmar-based Minnesota National Guard unit prior to their departure for a deployment to Kuwait.
The more than 150 Soldiers from the 682nd's Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Forward Support Company will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training prior to departing for Kuwait in November. The unit will be responsible for managing engineer sustainment operations across the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"We'll be deploying with horizontal engineers and vertical engineers so we can build across the ground or we can build upwards," said Capt. Michael Lovas, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Company. "It really depends on what mission is given to us. We'll be flexible to those needs and as engineers we can adapt to whatever mission or projects necessary."
Minnesota Guard leaders inducted into Court of Honor
Posted: 2015-10-07 11:02 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Seven retired members of the Minnesota National Guard were recognized before their fellow service members as they were inducted into the Court of Honor, Oct. 4, 2015, at Camp Ripley.
"It is our pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize these select leaders who have served our communities, state and nation with distinction," said Col. John Kolb, chief of staff for Joint Force Headquarters.
The Memorialization Board selects individuals for their service to the Minnesota National Guard as well as continued service to their communities. The board reviews the nominations received and forwards their recommendations to the Minnesota Adjutant General for approval. These inductees join the names of more than 300 others, since 1933, who have demonstrated their unwavering dedication, loyalty and distinguished service to the Minnesota National Guard.
Willmar National Guard Unit Set To Deploy
Posted: 2015-10-05 11:04 AM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2015
More than 150 Soldiers from the Minnesota Army National Guard's Willmar-based 682nd Engineer Battalion will deploy for an eleven-month mobilization in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
"The deploying Soldiers of the 682nd Engineer Battalion are eager to begin the deployment to Kuwait. This will be the first deployment for two-thirds of the unit, they are ready to create their own deployment experience," said Lt. Col. Keith Ferdon, battalion commander.
"Our battalion will be part of Task Force Wild in Kuwait. As a Minnesota hockey fan that is pretty cool. Our battalion has the mission of managing engineer sustainment operations throughout the Middle East, meaning we manage road and building infrastructure maintenance for coalition forces," said Ferdon.
Minnesota combat medic training center named for famous WWII nurse
Posted: 2015-10-05 09:26 AM
CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The Minnesota National Guard on Sunday dedicated its new combat medical training center in honor of Brainerd-native and famous WWII nurse Hortense McKay. She is the first female soldier to have a building named for her at Camp Ripley.
The Medical Simulation Training Center, which opened in May of 2014, specializes in training soldiers how to treat wartime wounded. It caters both to soldiers whose main role is being a combat medic (called "68Ws" in Army parlance) and to regular frontline soldiers looking to learn rudimentary lifesaving skills. Eventually, staff hope to train 2,500 people a year in the art of repairing bodies broken by combat.
Like the rest of Camp Ripley, the MSTC puts soldiers through the most stressful testing simulation possible. Strobe lights and loudspeakers recreate the distracting stimuli of combat, and the mannequins soldiers operate on display gruesome wounds that spew blood.