Use of the Wadena National Guard Armory will change in coming months as construction is set to begin on a $2.9 million renovation of the building.
Changes are part of a plan by the Minnesota National Guard to upgrade, consolidate or close armories in the state, according to Staff Sgt. Anthony Housey, who handles public affairs for the region.
"We just needed to update the facilities to make sure they are up-to-date and efficient," Housey said.
Housey said the projects major parts involve updating the heating and ventilation of the Wadena building. It also includes updates to the locker room to provide both male and female areas and more locker space for extended stays or when the community needs to take shelter in the building.
"It will be a benefit to the community," Housey said.
These projects also help bring the armory up to code and meet standards of efficiency, according to Housey. This renovation is part of the larger picture for Army National Guard facilities in the country and is part of the Readiness Center Transformation Master Plan, a 20-year plan affecting some armories by way of renovation, consolidation, closure and construction.
While Wadena's armory is getting updates, some centers are going away. In all, after transformations are complete, the current 2,170 facilities in the country will be lowered to 1,680, but those fewer sites will have more room. The plan would eliminate a 36-percent space deficit across the country, according to the master plan.
The Wadena project could take up to a year and half. Housey said bids are going out in March with hopes that construction would begin in June.
Some armory regulars are moving out during the construction.
Feb. 1, the Wadena driver exam station was temporarily moved to the Maslowski Wellness and Research Center due to upcoming remodeling at the armory. Hours will remain the same at the new location. They expect to be at this location for up to one year. Any questions, contact the driver exam station staff at Detroit Lakes at 218-846-8270. Testing Days: Written Test: Thursdays 9-11:15 a.m. and 1-3:15 p.m.; Road Test - CDL (Class A, B, C): Thursdays 9 a.m.-noon. and 1-4 p.m.; Road Test - Class D: Thursday 9 a.m.-noon. and 1-4 p.m.
Bob Tubandt, who is still active in the local Golden Gloves Boxing said the boxing group has not been using the armory for some time now and plans to continue using the junior high as the boxing site.
Housey said National Guard members will now meet off-site during the construction phase. Most training will take place at Camp Ripley. There won't be any renting of the facility during construction. A guard employee will keep a presence at the site maintaining security and regular maintenance.
Housey said it's been about 70 years since any modifications have been made to the facility.