On behalf of the 1,000-member Alaska National Guard Enlisted Association, I would like to thank the people who helped secure federal funding for a new National Guard armory in Juneau. The armory issue isn't over, as we still need additional matching funds from the state Legislature, but that's the next phase.
I would like to thank our congressional delegation; Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski, and Rep. Don Young. When the Juneau armory dropped off the Defense Department's list of military construction projects they were quick to respond. Alaska is fortunate to have a delegation with the clout that our two senators and representative have in Washington, D.C.
The Juneau armory project received critical support from Sen. Kim Elton, Reps. Bill Hudson and Beth Kerttula, and Mayor Sally Smith. As a long-time member of this community, I am proud to have witnessed how hard-working and responsive Juneau's political leaders are.
Rep. Hudson, a 20-year-plus veteran of the Coast Guard, was responsible for securing the first $2 million that funded the planning phase of the armory project. We will need his efforts again if we are to secure the state matching funds. Sen. Elton, a Vietnam veteran, Rep. Kerttula and Mayor Smith worked closely with the Knowles administration on this issue and also made sure that the battalion headquarters, with 15 full-time positions, remained in Juneau. Our legislators and mayor also closely monitored the armory issue in Washington.
I should also mention that former Sen. Jim Duncan and former Mayor Dennis Egan came to the rescue on the armory project when it became bogged down in the bureaucracy (this has been a long process!). And I would like to thank the many members of the National Guard (from almost every community in Southeast) who wrote letters, e-mailed and otherwise contacted their congressional delegation on this issue.