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Emergency preparedness dollars

Published (2/22/2008)
By Craig Green
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In 1999, a task force report was presented to the House about fire and law enforcement training facilities. It stressed the need for safe, realistic emergency training and the value of coordinating with federal, state and local agencies.

Sponsored by Rep. Al Doty (DFL-Royalton), HF2730 proposes $5 million for the design and construction of a homeland security and emergency management training and exercise center at Camp Ripley, near Little Falls.

Presented to the House Public Safety Finance Division Feb. 14, the bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an upcoming public safety bonding bill. The Senate companion, SF2487, sponsored by Sen. Paul Koering (R-Fort Ripley), awaits action by the Senate Finance Committee.

A 53,000 acre, state-owned military training site, Camp Ripley has two aircraft runways, a control tower, an administrative and operations building, helicopter pads, an aircraft hanger and two crash fire rescue bays. Yet, even with these resources, availability is limited for civilian training because of the needs of the military.

Tim Leslie, assistant commissioner of the Department of Public Safety, said this would provide a regional facility where fire and police officials can receive valuable and consistent training for emergency situations. Preliminary plans include a simulated emergency operations center, collapsed structures and a fire hydrant system for a fully automated controlled simulated city.

Leslie also said that the next phase of the Camp Ripley project would include a 50-room dormitory, a cafeteria, burn tower and emergency vehicle driving course. It has a price tag of $10.19 million, but another funding request will not be made until 2010.

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