$3.7 million will help build new GJ armory
The armories in Grand Junction and two other areas of the state got a step closer Thursday to getting the funding they need to expand operations.
That happened when the House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee unanimously approved a measure to allow the Grand Junction armory to tap into money from the Colorado State Veterans Trust Fund to expand their facilities.
For Grand Junction, that means $3.7 million to build a new 37,447-square-foot facility that would include a drill hall, classrooms, a kitchen and offices on a 15-acre site. Once done, about 130 personnel would be stationed there.
The new armory is to be in Pear Park near the Veterans Memorial Cemetery of Western Colorado.
The measure, House Bill 1140, calls for another $3 million to build similar armories in Alamosa and Windsor.
The bill stems from a plan announced by Gov. Bill Ritter last fall to use money from that fund, some of which comes from tobacco settlement money that Colorado receives, and the state’s Real Estate Proceeds Fund.
Together, Colorado will be able to leverage the money with federal funds, adding another $1.3 million in matching funds and a separate $10 million in federal construction money.
None of that, however, includes the additional money the federal government will spend on expanding National Guard personnel in the state, which will bring additional jobs, said Air Force Maj. Elena O’Bryan, spokeswoman for the Colorado National Guard.
“We’re looking to expand the facilities because we have this new infantry in the state,” O’Bryan said. “It’s not based in Grand Junction, but various communities in Colorado. We need the space for those soldiers, so they can be ready to deploy overseas or for domestic operations.”
That new band of brothers will be known as the 1st Battalion of the 157th Infantry. The Grand Junction armory will house Company C, while Company A will be in Alamosa and Company B in Windsor.
Once at full strength, the battalion will have 800 soldiers attached to it. The light-infantry company replaces the 143rd Signal Co., a unit that served for a year in Iraq and since has been disbanded.
The Grand Junction armory also houses the 947th Engineering Co. It, too, will move into the new facility.