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State House tags SMART Center for bonding proposal

The HERO Center has been flagged for funding by the House of Representatives. Courtesy of Cottage Grove Public Safety

ST. PAUL — The SMART Center is inching forward, as local officials wait with bated breath for what the end of session could bring.

The state House this week announced that the (Safety and Mental Health Alternative Response Training) SMART Center has been flagged for nearly $6.6 million in its state funding.

The SMART Center's price tag is $13.2, and the county is asking for half from state bonding. The other $6.6 million is already in their county budget plan.

House members also earmarked $9.9 was for the HERO (Health and Emergency Response Occupations) Center. Local officials has worried earlier this year that if the two centers vyed for money at the same time, neither would the funding proposed for each.

With this budget draft, both projects will be awarded their full asking price.

The bill sponsored by Tony Jurgens (R-Cottage Grove) and Keith Franke (R-St. Paul Park) also includes $10 million for Veterans Affairs, some of which will be used to benefit the local residents at the Hastings Veterans Home. The Veterans Home in Hastings provides domiciliary care to about 140 Minnesota veterans.

The facility is nearly a century old and in need of a variety repairs. Critical needs include replacement of interior and exterior doors, roofing and water lines, HVAC controls and repair of crumbling walls in the tunnel system.

The proposal would also cover highest priority repairs for veterans' facilities in Minneapolis, Fergus Falls, Luverne and Silver Bay.

Funding will continue to be debated in session.

The regular session ends May 21.

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