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Dundee will be home for Michigan National Guard armory

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    National Guard Col. Edward Hallenbeck addresses a group of Monroe County residents gathered to celebrate the official announcement of a new National Guard Armory in Dundee, Mich.

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    Michigan State Sen. Dale Zorn (R. Ida) left, spoke to a group of Monroe County residents gathered to celebrate the official announcement of a new National Guard Armory.

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    Part of the 44 acres that are a proposed site for a new National Guard Armory in Dundee, Mich.

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    A portion of the 44 acres that are a proposed site for a new National Guard Armory in Dundee, Mich.

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DUNDEE, Mich. — Dundee will be the home to a new, $42 million Michigan National Guard armory, government and military officials announced Friday, though it will likely be several years before construction begins.

Guard12-1

National Guard Col. Edward Hallenbeck addresses a group of Monroe County residents gathered to celebrate the official announcement of a new National Guard Armory in Dundee, Mich.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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The facility will renew and expand the guard’s presence in southeast Michigan, something officials said is a key part of the Michigan National Guard’s long-term strategy.

The guard recently completed a $600,000 purchase of 44 acres of vacant land within a business park north of M-50 and east of U.S. 23.

“We wanted to get back here,” said Col. Edward Hallenbeck, the guard’s construction facility management officer. “For recruiting soldiers, training soldiers, to meet our mission requirements both for the state and the nation, this is a key place for us. The purchase is the first step bringing Michigan National Guard units down here.”

Col. Hallenbeck said Dundee’s location near a several major highways and the fact it’s an hour drive from a number of major population areas factored into the decision to pursue putting a so-called “super armory” there.

Unlike most of the Michigan National Guard’s other armories, which serve a single unit, the Dundee location would be shared by three or four guard units.

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Michigan State Sen. Dale Zorn (R. Ida) left, spoke to a group of Monroe County residents gathered to celebrate the official announcement of a new National Guard Armory.

The Blade/Katie Rausch
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That makes it more efficient for the guard — the facilities aren’t sitting empty three weeks a month — as well as bringing with it more economic benefit than a standard armory.

“We are so, so excited in the village of Dundee. This is the biggest announcement here since Cabela’s, it’s going to bring many, many people to our community,” said Dave Uhl, the Dundee village manager.

About 30 full-time employees are expected to work at the site, while training will bring in hundreds of guardsmen.

Though the announcement was met with much fanfare, officials cautioned that it could take six or seven years before federal funding is approved for the site.

State Sen. Dale Zorn (R., Ida) said the fact that the state already owns the land could expedite the process somewhat, but he acknowledged it’s a long-term project.

Even so, getting the armory is seen as a big deal for Dundee and Monroe County.

“Rarely do the needs of our nation, our state, and our local community coincide as perfectly as they did with this project,” Sen. Zorn said.

The Michigan National Guard has been reexamining its footprint in the state for several years, and seven older armories have closed since 2011.

That included an armory in Adrian, which Col. Hallenbeck said had become too costly to maintain.

Current estimates put the cost of the new readiness center at approximately $30 million. The state of Michigan would cover 25 percent of the cost, with the federal government covering the rest. Plans also call for a $12 million maintenance center. 

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com419-724-6134, or on Twitter @TyrelLinkhorn.

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