Four National Guard armories to close in Mississippi

Four National Guard armories to close in Mississippi

MISSISSIPPI (WDAM) - Four Mississippi National Guard armories will close as part of a cost savings and facility consolidation plan.

According to a Mississippi National Guard news release, the centers are in Grenada, Mendenhall, Lumberton and Nettleton.

The armories were under lease agreements with each community and served as training venues for soldiers. Each facility will be returned to the respective municipalities by Oct. 23.

"The Mississippi National Guard made the decision to close the armories because they were not being fully utilized," said Gov. Phil Bryant in a written statement. "I hope the facilities can serve other useful purposes for their communities and have asked Gen. Collins to maintain communication with local stakeholders. This is the first of many steps state agencies will take to achieve efficiencies that do not result in the loss of services. I expect other executive agencies to report additional cost-saving measures before the next legislative session."

The initiative reduces the number of readiness centers across the state from 83 to 79. Everyone with armory jobs will be reassigned to nearby facilities.

The four armories were selected based on force structure reductions, proximity to larger population centers for recruiting, unit cohesion, facility age and available state and federal funding over the past several years, according to the state. In addition, the Federal Budget Control Act of 2011 also influenced development of the plan.

Nettleton Mayor Rem Riley said he's bracing for an economic hit of half a million dollars annually.

"I didn't like it much because that's going to effect the economy here in Nettleton," Riley said.

Riley said the armory is used as a training facility and employs "four to six" full-time personnel. Once a month, he said, approximately 100 new recruits come through the town for training at the armory.

"It's going to affect the cafes at first, then the convenience stores and your Dollar General's and Fred's," he said. "It's going to affect us all just a little. I certainly wish it wouldn't close, plus it's a pretty good security for the community."

Maj. General Augustus L. Collins, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, released a statement concerning the closing of the facilities.

"This plan allows for the Mississippi Army National Guard to strengthen our force and communities, and save precious financial resources at the same time," he said. "The returns will help us to recruit in higher populated areas and improve cohesion by consolidating our force structure to better accommodate our smaller force. They will also save approximately $130,000 in annual maintenance and utility costs and allow our partner communities to re-purpose their facilities for other uses."

More readiness centers are also being considered for return to community operations. No timeline has been set for these actions to occur.