GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (6/22/10) – On a clear Tuesday afternoon, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Jr., stood at a podium inside Colorado National Guard’s Field Maintenance Shop No. 3, flanked by state legislators, CONG leadership and prominent dignitaries, to break ground on Grand Junction’s newest military facility.
Located northwest of the Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery on the corner of Riverside Parkway and Evergreen Road, the 10-acre site will feature a 35,000-square-foot facility that will provide an assembly area and home for more than 100 community-based Citizen-Soldiers, including a contingent of full-time staff to manage daily operations.
The Colorado Army National Guard recently received the 157th Infantry Battalion and its subordinate units as an addition to its force structure. This new readiness center will house Company C of this battalion.
In his remarks to local media, Ritter cited the state’s commitment to the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan as one of the prime motivators for providing new and updated facilities, not only in Grand Junction, but also in Windsor and Fort Lupton.
“Readiness is a large component of us being able to ensure their safety,” he said.
Grand Junction made a natural fit as the city is projected to grow substantially over the next decade. Coupled with its educational institutions that allow the National Guard to draw top-quality recruits, the city is strategically located allowing the National Guard to serve the communities of the Western Slope during state emergencies.
The architect for this project is Coover-Clark & Associates, Inc., from Denver, and the general contractor is FCI Constructors Inc., from Grand Junction, which will allow the venture to bring jobs to the local population.
One of the project goals is to achieve the minimum of a Silver Rating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, as developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. Sustainability features include water and energy saving measures, improved indoor environmental quality and using local building materials during construction. These measures will not only reduce environmental impact, but bring Colorado’s unique aesthetics to the design.
Construction and design features of the new readiness center are not its only noteworthy points. In an economic climate that sees many states closing armories for lack of funding, Colorado has been able to make the most of financial resources already at hand.
State budgeting will account for 25 percent of the $11 million construction cost with the remaining 75 percent provided by the federal government. However, rather than taking funds from its already strained budget, the state was able to meet its financial obligations for the project through an agreement with the Board of Veterans Affairs to use money from the Veterans Trust Fund. The agreement received unanimous approval from both entities.
“We couldn’t have done this without [The Board of Veterans Affairs],” noted State Rep. B. J. Nikkel (House District 49, Larimer and Weld counties), who sponsored House Bill1140 to appropriate the funding and establish the mechanism by which those funds will be repaid with interest.
“Now that we have this armory, be prepared for growth,” declared Colorado Army National Guard Commander, Col. Dana M. Capozzella, to the assembled guests. She went on to discuss the potential and possibilities the new readiness center will bring to current community members and future generations.
In total, five new readiness centers will be built in Colorado. In addition to Grand Junction, readiness centers will be built in Alamosa, Colorado Springs and Windsor.
Construction of the Fort Lupton Readiness Center began in December 2009.
The 157th Infantry Battalion has a long and distinguished history of combat service, having fought at Sicily, Salerno and Anzio in World War II, and was present for the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau. The unit was re-designated Field Artillery in the 1950s but reclaimed its infantry mantle in 2008.