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Bonding committee stops for HERO Center visit in Cottage Grove

Cottage Grove Public Safety Director Craig Woolery (right) and Police Capt. Greg Rinzel present plans of the HERO Center to the Capital Investment Committee Sept. 5. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 3
Keith Franke and Tony Jurgens (back) and other members of the House Capital Investment Committee stopped at Cottage Grove City Hall for a presentation about the HERO Center, which was submitted for state funding. Public Safety Director Craig Woolery presented Sept. 5. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 3
The HERO Center is planned on the prairie land next to Cottage Grove City Hall and will be used by several of the region's public safety departments and schools. Katie Nelson / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

The HERO (health and emergency response occupations) Center may be one step closer to a reality after the House Capital Investment Committee made a stop at Cottage Grove City Hall Sept. 5 to consider it for the 2018 bonding cycle.

If the funding is allocated to the facility, construction could begin next year.

Cottage Grove and Woodbury city councils have been working together on planning and design. The project received $1.45 million in the 2015 bonding bill for pre-design costs.

Woodbury and Cottage Grove are requesting just short of $10 million. The two cities will fund the other 50 percent of the facility.

Cottage Grove and Woodbury public safety departments have been working on the proposed east metro training center since 2011. The two departments have had increasing challenges in the past years finding space for training, especially to keep up with recent changes in law enforcement.

Cottage Grove Public Safety Director Craig Woolery noted that in 2014, 2009 and 1999 the Minnesota Department of Public Safety also stated that the east metro lacks public safety training facilities.

They have identified 10 other potential users from the east metro, as well as public usage such as space for the school trapshooting team, a firearm safety education area and a shooting range for community use.

"All the communities around here can send their (public safety) people in for an hour and get something done," Woolery said.

The bonding committee has over $3 billion in requests for 2018. There was no bonding bill approved after the failed budget session in 2016, pushing more into the 2018 bonding package.

A bonding bill will completed in May 2018.

Committee members make hundreds of stops on their tour, but it could be a benefit for legislators to see the requests in person.

"It doesn't hurt to have Rep. Franke and I both on the Capital Investment Committee, and Sen. Schoen on the Capital Investment Committee in the Senate," Rep. Tony Jurgens said at the Sept. 6 city council meeting. "You know you've got all three of us pulling for Cottage Grove, for this area. ... We'll be fighting for the HERO Center."