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County inks deal to buy land for new Guard armory

The location of a new Mississippi Army National Guard armory forMonticello’s 106th Forward Support Battalion was secured Thursdaywhen county supervisors purchased nearly 16 acres of privateproperty.

The county agreed to purchase 15.97 acres from John “Jack” andBetty Rhymes at $3,000 per acre on land adjacent to the Highway 84Bypass across Old Highway 27 from the existing armory.

“This is a step that will help in getting the construction moneyfrom the federal government,” said Bob Smira, director of theLawrence County Community Development Association. “With thispurchase, the state and county have done their parts.”

The state appropriated $1.4 million to build a new armory in abond bill approved in December 2004. The state money was matchingfunds to release $4 million in federal funds already set aside forthe project.

Some federal money has already been used. Approximately $400,000of federal monies was released in November 2004 to conduct locationstudies and begin its architectural design.

The new armory will cost nearly $6 million and include meetingrooms and a civic area.

As part of the county agreement, supervisors said they wouldbuild a frontage an access road beginning across from the existingarmory, north to the Highway 84 Bypass and then turning west to theedge of the armory property. The road will give Rhymes his onlyaccess to other property he retained.

The road will also, however, serve as part of a frontage roadfor the bypass county and city officials are working together tocreate to boost the town’s economic development. City officialsintend to build a boulevard from the point where the new road wouldend leading into the town as part of its downtown revitalizationefforts.

Supervisors promised Rhymes they would have a gravel roadcompleted within six months and a paved road in place with 18months.

The county also agreed to meet with Jimmy Selman to negotiateterms of reimbursing Selman for work he had done on the landpurchased by the county. Selman had prepared the land for plantingbefore the purchase was completed.

“The county will talk to him about those costs and consider itat that time,” Smira said.

The 106th is currently stationed in Iraq as part of the 155thBrigade Combat Team, which comprises approximately 3,500 soldiersfrom across the state.

It is unlikely the armory can be completed before the soldiersreturn from overseas duty, Smira said.