Armory building could add 150 guard jobs on Western Slope
A new Colorado National Guard armory included in Gov. Bill Ritter’s budget proposal to the Legislature will create as many 150 jobs across the Western Slope.
The National Guard already is recruiting for 130 jobs in a recently created 800-soldier infantry battalion, said Capt. Elena O’Bryan, state public affairs officer. The remaining 20 jobs will be part of an existing engineering unit based in Durango, O’Bryan said.
The new armory, to be built on 15 acres near the Western Slope Veterans Cemetery at 2810 Riverside Parkway, will be more than 37,000 square feet and include a drill hall, classrooms, kitchen and offices for both units.
Ritter’s budget calls for using $6.4 million from the Colorado Veterans Trust Fund and other state sources and federal money to construct armories in Grand Junction, Alamosa and Windsor.
The battalion was assigned to Colorado in 2007 and is part of the Army’s “Grow the Force” initiative.
The National Guard last year announced the founding of Company C of the 1st Battalion of the 157th Infantry, based in Grand Junction. The light-infantry company was formed to replace the 143rd Signal Company, a unit that served for a year in Iraq and has since been disbanded.
The construction process depends on how quickly the Legislature acts and then how long it takes to complete bidding. The design of the armory already has been completed, O’Bryan said.
Members of the infantry and engineering units are being recruited, and “there are definitely qualified engineers in Grand Junction,” O’Bryan said.
Members receive full-time benefits, health and life insurance and educational benefits of up to 100 percent reimbursement.