ISHPEMING, Mich. (WJMN) – Ground was broken Wednesday morning to begin a $6.5 million renovation at the Ishpeming Armory.
State Senator Ed McBroom was among the people with their hand on a golden shovel as military leaders and contractors shared highlights of the project. The main cause for the renovations is to improve the accommodations for women stationed at the facility.
First built in 1961, it was originally only planned to accommodate male service members. As women began serving in the military, the building was adapted to have restrooms and showers for women, but without a significant overhaul, the armory could only offer the bare minimum.
“I already had two kids so I didn’t have this luxury of the lactation room, and I really wish I would have,” said Sgt. 1st Class Chelsea Anderson. “Before in our previous restroom we only had one shower and it would get extremely overcrowded in there and now we will have five showers. Definitely makes it feel that there is more equality.”
But, showers and a lactation room aren’t the only renovations. A new stairwell and elevator is going in as well. Sen. McBroom says he has been pushing for improving armories in the Upper Peninsula for a while.
“I was very involved in the last 10 years with various tours, advocating for a number of locations to consolidate or stay open, such as this one,” said McBroom. “In general, many of them are very run down, and you heard on the tour today just how the bathrooms and such were in poor condition, the weight rooms in poor condition. So getting an elevator in the building, being able to move freight around, all these things are really important updates that all of our buildings need and it’s something that I along with my colleagues have been working on for quite a long time.”
The Ishpeming Armory is just one of 33 bases across the state getting similar upgrades. The final price tag for the state for all projects is estimated to be about $132 million.
“I toured this, I was actually a little surprised that some of the facilities are a little bit larger, that there aren’t a few more stalls,” said McBroom. “It doesn’t take much to look around and see that there are other things to do to continually improve in and make use of the facility and honor it as much as possible. It takes time, it takes money, it takes advocacy.”
“There’s a lot of facilities in the state,” said Lt. Col. Lucas Lanczy. “There’s a lot of upgrades needed and if the money is not there, then we can’t do it. What we’re doing now this regulatory. This is on behalf of the state taking care of us soldiers which is awesome.”