BOISE – The Idaho National Guard is requesting a new $400,000 armory in Sandpoint, after the area generated more than 30 recruits in the year and a half since the Guard opened a storefront recruiting office downtown.
“It has grown so quickly and the response has been so positive,” said Maj. Gen. Larry LaFrenz, head of the Idaho National Guard.
The Guard has armories in Bonners Ferry and in the Post Falls/Coeur d’Alene area. LaFrenz said Guard officials visited Sandpoint two years ago and met with unit leaders and school administrators. “The feedback that we got was that the recruiting potential up there would be magnificent, from the standpoint of the Guard,” LaFrenz told the Legislature’s Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee on Tuesday.
Now, he said, the area is targeted for a 62-member Guard unit. The Guard has secured 41/2 acres from Bonner County and is proposing construction of a temporary armory, offices and other facilities there, with a permanent building to follow in 2014 with federal funding. The Guard is seeking $400,000 to develop the site, put in utilities and erect the temporary structure.
“Apparently there’s a demand,” said Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint. “It’s been, I think, a positive development from the community’s standpoint because the Guard brings some federal dollars in investment in the development and recruitment to the community.”
Gov. Butch Otter has recommended the state funding in his budget for next year, and legislative budget writers appeared receptive. .
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