Community, schools also use Calumet Readiness Center

Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie The Calumet Readiness Center in Calumet Township opened in 2005, but the state of Michigan was considering not having a National Guard presence in the area after moving out of the Colosseum in 2004. With urging of local government officials and a United States senator, the building was constructed, and the National Guard stayed in the area.

CALUMET TOWNSHIP — The Michigan National Guard Readiness Center in Calumet Township may not have been built if it wasn’t for the efforts of local and federal government officials.

Calumet Township Supervisor Paul Lehto said the National Guard left the Calumet Colosseum in 2004, and there was no intention to remain in the area because it had a location in Baraga, and it was thought that was enough.

However, Lehto said there were many local people in the National Guard who used the armory at the Colosseum.

“At the time, we had a hundred-plus members of the National Guard,” he said. “There was no reason for them to go anywhere else.”

Lehto said the National Guard has been in four locations in the village of Calumet and Calumet Township. The first armory was on 6th Street in Calumet. The second armory was built on Mine Street between the Keweenaw National Historical Park’s Keweenaw History Center, formerly the C&H Mining Company library, and the building which now is Calumet Electronics.

“That building burned in 1942,” Lehto said.

The Calumet Colosseum was built in 1913, and the ice rink was heavily used by the community and local hockey teams, and Lehto said after the Mine Street armory burned, the state of Michigan moved the National Guard into it until 2004.

In 2004, Lehto said the state had no desire to keep a National Guard unit in the area because of the Baraga NG location.

“First of all, we had to convince the state of Michigan to build a new building,” he said

After discussions about staying in the area, the state decided to construct a new facility in the township, but there was no funding for construction. Former Sen. Carl Levin, D-Detroit, who was chairman of the Senate Armed Services committee at the time, found funding to get what became the Calumet Readiness Center built.

“He got it financed,” Lehto said.

The new building cost $4.3 million, Lehto said. It is owned by the MIchigan Department of Military Affairs, and dedicated on July 16, 2005. The 12 acres on which it is constructed was traded by the township to the state in exchange for Calumet Colosseum, of which the township took possession on December 2004.

The 1431st Sapper Engineers Unit of the 107th Engineers is based at the Readiness Center, Lehto said. Other users of the building included the Calumet High School Junior ROTC.