• 46°

Bond bill means new armory for guard unit

Monticello’s 106th Forward Support Battalion will get a new ArmyNational Guard Readiness Center and Armory, but officials still aretrying to determine the best location.

The state appropriated $1.4 million to build a new armory in abond bill approved at the conclusion of a special session a weekago, said District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. The money was part of$153.1 million appropriated for state agencies, rural communities,bridges, arts and historical preservation in a total bond packageof about $456 million.

The state money, she said, also releases $4 million in federalfunds already set aside for the project. The state was not able todraw on those funds until it met its matching commitment.

“Now that we got our state bonds, that shouldn’t be a problem,”Hyde-Smith said.

Approximately $400,000 of the federal monies was released lastNovember, when the federal grant was approved, to begin locationstudies and architectural design.

“The majority of that money went to architectural design,” saidMonticello Mayor David Nichols.

The architectural design is nearly complete, Hyde-Smith said,and location is the main issue yet to be addressed.

Hyde-Smith said she was meeting several county officials inMonticello today to discuss the new armory’s location. State,county, city and National Guard officials have been workingtogether to find a suitable location.

“There are several options available to us, and we just need toagree on what site best serves the armory,” she said.

The new facility will cost nearly $6 million and include meetingrooms and a civic area, she said.

Hyde-Smith said the appropriation for the armory meets one ofthe goals she set when she first took office in 2000. She haswatched five other armories across the state be built in thattime.

“I feel like I have patiently bided my time,” she said. “We haveone of the oldest armories in the state. It’s almost 60 years old.This is a good day for me. (District 91 Rep.) Joey Hudson and Ihave been working on this for five years. He may have been workingon it longer.”

The armory is not likely to be completed before the 106thForward Support Battalion, Headquarters Company, returns from dutyin Iraq, Hyde-Smith said.

The 106th is part of the 155th Separate Armored Brigade, whichis composed of approximately 4,000 soldiers from across the state.The 155th is scheduled to depart for Iraq next month.