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Dayton submits $3.5 million bonding proposal on behalf of Brainerd National Guard armory

A Brainerd-based Minnesota National Guard unit received some love in Gov. Mark Dayton's list of public infrastructure projects he wants the Legislature to fund.

During a press conference call Wednesday, the list of Brainerd area projects in Dayton's new proposal he rattled off included $3.5 million to renovate the Guard's Brainerd Readiness Center, known colloquially as the Brainerd Armory.

Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey, a Minnesota National Guard spokesman, said the Brainerd Readiness Center is one of the older armories in the state, having been originally completed in 1989. Housey said the renovation will bring the facility's HVAC system up to code, make the building more energy-efficient, and reflect a gender-integrated Guard by including more facilities for women, such as locker rooms. The building came up on the rotation of National Guard facilities projects to be submitted to elected officials for possible bonding money.

The Brainerd Readiness Center serves as the headquarters for the 1st Combined Arms Battalion of the 194th Armor Regiment, administering for roughly 600 soldiers. In addition, community events such as the Bataan Memorial March and the local Marine detachment's annual Christmas toy drive are based there. Civilians use the building for volleyball, gun shows, and Scouting events, Housey said.

The proposal Dayton released Wednesday also included several area projects that made his 2016 list, including $3.5 million for a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources facility on Mille Lacs Lake to help combat the walleye shortage there, $100,000 for the DNR's fish hatchery in Brainerd, and $3.521 million for a Joint Emergency Response Training Center at the National Guard base at Camp Ripley, to help emergency responders from agencies across the state train to react to a potential oil train derailment.