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Stimulus funds result in armory boiler replacement

The National Guard Armory in New Richmond is getting an upgrade thanks to the federal economic stimulus package.

Thanks to the influx of money, the local facility is in line to receive a new boiler at a cost of about $128,000.

According to Col. Jeffrey Liethen, director of Installations Management for the Wisconsin Army National Guard, the boiler replacement received funding because it will improve the efficiency of heating the building.

"The Army National Guard's priority for federal stimulus projects is focused on projects that will improve energy efficiency," he said. "Therefore, the New Richmond boiler system project was one of the few that moved ahead of many hundreds of other worthy projects."

Even though the boiler is only about 15 years old (the armory opened in 1993), Liethen said the heating unit has been "nickeled and dimed to death" with repairs in an effort to keep it operating. They've had to replace several components already, to the tune of $5,000 to $10,000 each time.

"The existing boiler system was cutting edge technology in the early 1990s, but it had some yet to be proven design flaws," he said.

When the new system is installed, Liethen said, officials hope some of the headaches they've had to deal with over the years will disappear.

"The net benefits will be less energy use, less pollution, reduced maintenance costs and a more reliable system," he said.

Design is already underway for the project, according to Liethen. The National Guard hopes to award construction contracts on the project before October.

Overall, the Wisconsin Army National Guard will receive about $13 million in federal stimulus funding to help 40 construction projects across the state, Liethen reported.

Federal facilities in Wisconsin will also benefit from the influx of funding.

Fort McCoy will receive $14 million for a new family housing facility and $31 million for repairs to barracks, road reconstruction and a water main.

The two-story wooden barracks were originally designed as temporary housing, intended to last just five years. Of the 276 barracks, less than half had ever been modernized or renovated.

"I am pleased to see the Department of Defense is undertaking this much-needed effort to improve conditions for the thousands of troops who pass through Fort McCoy and other facilities in Western Wisconsin," said U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-Third District). "I have long advocated for major upgrades to these bases to ensure that when our soldiers are being trained, their safety and health are taken care of."

Camp Williams will receive $2.67 million for renovations.

All of the money comes from the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, enacted by Congress to stimulate the economy. The funding for the New Richmond project is listed on page 87 of the massive funding summary.