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Pipestone, Luverne armories to be consolidated

WORTHINGTON -- Minnesota Army National Guard officials plan to close the armories in Pipestone and Luverne and build one new facility in their stead.

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WORTHINGTON - Minnesota Army National Guard officials plan to close the armories in Pipestone and Luverne and build one new facility in their stead.

Officials are in the design and planning stages of the project and hope to start discussions with the cities’ officials to determine where the new 40,000-square-foot armory would be built. The structure would have to be situated on 15 acres of land per federal regulations. 

Minnesota Army National Guard (MN ARNG) officials plan to start construction in 10 to 15 years - once they have secured federal funding for the project. Until then, the two armories will remain open - which is why Pipestone’s armory recently received $3 million in renovations.
“We did this to be able to operate in the future in the area,” Col. Larry Herke, the construction and facilities management officer for MN ARNG, said.“This (new) facility won’t be there tomorrow… not unless we get a windfall of money.”
The consolidation is one of many that will happen in the state of Minnesota as outlined in the 2014 “Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan.”

The plan was drafted after Congress passed the National Defense Act in 2010, which mandated that all the armories had to be evaluated.
Currently, the state has 64 armories. The MN ARNG plans to decrease that number to 56.
“A lot of other states are also consolidating,” Herke said. “We decided we wanted to stay more dispersed (across Minnesota) to help more people and attract recruits. ... We also couldn’t afford having one unit split into two locations.”
Both buildings were deemed obsolete, Herke added, noting that Luverne’s armory was built in the 1930s, and the one in Pipestone was built in the 1950s.
The sites lack space to store equipment and parking, Herke said, noting that the armories are about half the size of the proposed facility and are located on one acre of land.
“When I first started, all they gave me was a duffel bag. Now they give me four duffel bags, a box, a large rucksack and equipment,” Herke said. “All this new equipment we have, like the GPS, continues to take up space in these facilities... (These armories) weren’t made to store so many things.”
He added that military vehicles in the area needed to be stored in indoor facilities.
“We tried to expand in those areas, but the sites are too small,” Herke said.
In addition to space and parking, the new site will have an onsite water storage facility and the new armory will be able to use renewable energy - both federal requirements that the older facilities did not fulfill.
“It made sense to build a new facility,” he said.
The project will cost about $12-14 million. A quarter of the funding will come from the state, and federal funds will be used for the rest of the project.
City agencies, like the fire department, can also operate in the facility, Henke said. In addition, the city will be able to use the classrooms and kitchens in the armory.
Although MN ARNG officials have not decided in which city the new armory will be located, Henke said MN ARNG officials plan to meet with Pipestone and Luverne leaders in the coming weeks.
Further plans for the armory will be discussed at the Pipestone Board of Commissioners meeting at 9 a.m. April 5 in commissioners room at the Pipestone County Courthouse.
The announcement surprised Pipestone officials, who had not been contacted by MN ARNG about the project.
“We were surprised when we found out, because they put $3 million into renovating the armory,” said Pipestone Mayor Laurie Ness, who hopes to find out more about the MN ARNG’s plans at the county meeting.

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