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Monticello armory funding awaits House action

State plans for a new Mississippi Army National Guard armory inMonticello may be decided in the House of Representatives thisweek.

A bill requesting $3.5 million to meet the state’s matchingobligation for federal funding was approved by the MississippiSenate last week and moves to the House Finance Committee thisweek, said District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, who authored thebill.

“It is, no doubt, the top priority in my district right now,”she said. “We’re going to build a nice facility. We should be ontarget for 2008.”

The present bill corrects a mistake made in late 2004 when theLegislature passed an appropriations bill for $1.4 million inmatching funds for the armory, Hyde-Smith said.

The error resulted from incorrect figures being used to tabulatethe cost of the armory and the percentage of matching funds neededto meet those costs, she said.

Should the bill pass the House and be signed by the governor,the state would have all the funding necessary to match the federalfunds needed build the armory, she said. However, the state isstill waiting on the federal funding for the project.

Federal funding for the project was expected this year as anaddition to the 2007 Defense bill, but was stripped from the billduring the Democratic takeover of Congress, said Hyde-Smith,D-Brookhaven.

“It was an add-on and they removed all add-ons,” she said. “Itwasn’t just this one.”

The state senator said she is working with U.S. Rep. ChipPickering to track the bill through the federal process.

The armory has been included in the 2008 appropriations bill,she said. Hyde-Smith said she remains optimistic the bill will seepassage.

“It just takes time. We’re plugging away at it,” she said.

The armory was originally projected to cost approximately $6million, but rising construction and materials costs caused by thedemand in the industry following Hurricane Katrina may result in alarger price tag.

The armory will be located on 15.97 acres of land adjacent tothe Highway 84 Bypass across from the existing armory on OldHighway 27. County supervisors purchased the property in the summerof 2005.

Some federal money has already been allocated for the project.Approximately $400,000 in federal monies were used in 2004 toconduct location studies and begin its architectural design.