Camp Ripley’s Education Center open for business

State-of-the art facility will serve both military and civilian agencies

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

Pictured during the ribbon cutting center at Camp Ripley’s Education Center Wednesday are (from left): Maj. Scott Hawks, state public affairs officer; Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the state of Minnesota; Ramona Dohman, commissioner for the Department of Public Safety; and Col. Larry Herke, Minnesota National Guard chief of construction and facilities management officer.
Pictured during the ribbon cutting center at Camp Ripley’s Education Center Wednesday are (from left): Maj. Scott Hawks, state public affairs officer; Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant general of the state of Minnesota; Ramona Dohman, commissioner for the Department of Public Safety; and Col. Larry Herke, Minnesota National Guard chief of construction and facilities management officer.

A project three years in the making is now ready for use by military and civilian agencies.

The ribbon was cut for Camp Ripley’s Education Center Wednesday, a model to provide state-of-the-art education, utilizing sustainable energy.

The complex was built in response to increased training requirements by not only the Minnesota National Guard, but also state agencies, such as the Minnesota State Patrol.

Camp Ripley, along with several inter-agency partners, collaborated on the plans for the project to present to the Minnesota Legislature in 2012, when the state was in financial straits.

The Legislature appropriated $19.5 million from state bond proceeds for the facility.

Ribbon-cutting-Nash-cutting-cake
Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, using a ceremonial sword, cut cake for the visitors and guests who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for Camp Ripley’s Education Center. Guests were able to tour the facility as well.

The facility features 48 individual hotel-like rooms, nine classrooms, each capable of holding 425 students, a 200-person step theater and a 400-person dining area, where 1,200 can be fed during mealtime.

Those attending training can sleep, eat, learn and socialize without ever leaving the complex.

Maj. Gen. Richard Nash, adjutant for the state of Minnesota, said the facility was “A long time in planning and construction.”

“Camp Ripley has worked hard to transform this location into a premier training facility in the Midwest, and we’re not done yet,” he said.

One of Nash’s priorities he said was sustainable infrastructure.

“We can’t rest on our laurels or our achievements or improvements in the past,” he said.

Nash noted Camp Ripley’s 53 acres featured state-of-the-art training facilities such as its range systems and simulation center.

The plans are, he said, “To continue to grow and to change, never being satisfied that it’s good enough.”

Col. Larry Herke, chief of construction and facilities management gave a tour of the machine room at the Education Center.
Col. Larry Herke, chief of construction and facilities management gave a tour of the machine room at the Education Center.

Col. Larry Herke, chief of construction and facilities management, said it was critical when building the structure that the focus be on reduction of operation and maintenance costs, just as much as on square footage.

Not just built on the “Sustainable Buildings 2030” standards for a 60 percent reduction in energy and carbon dioxide reduction, the complex features other energy and environmental savings components.

These include a geothermal ground source system, which provides heating and cooling and reduces natural gas use by 75 percent; solar thermal panels to produce 30 percent of Camp Ripley’s needs for domestic hot water; 27 solar tubes providing natural lighting along with daylight harvesting controls and LED fixtures reducing energy costs for lighting by 70 percent; an HVAC system that conforms to the requirements of the Energy Star Product program and direct digital controls which allow temperature setback during low usage hours.

In addition, low flow fixtures will be installed to exceed a 50 percent reduction in water use and storm water will be harvested for external water use.

The building, he said, was designed to last for at least 100 years. Knowing that, a time capsule was put together to be opened in 100 years, March 11, 2115.