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Lawmakers OK funds for new armory

The last appropriation needed to begin work on a new MississippiNational Guard base in Monticello could be well on its way afterlawmakers approved the state match to the federal funds lastweek.

If House Bill 1701 is signed into law, the state will contribute$4.43 million to the federal government’s $14.3 million earmark tofinalize the construction of a new readiness center for the town’s140-member unit, the 106th Brigade Support Battalion, part of thestatewide 155th Brigade Combat Team currently serving in Iraq. Thenew headquarters is expected to add around five jobs in Monticello,where the armory already has a number of full-time positions.

“There’s going to be some additional assignments there, which meansadditional jobs,” said District 91 Rep. Bob Evans, D-Monticello.”Any time you have a facility like that you’ll have money coming into keep it going – the old trickle-down effect.”

Aside from serving as a small financial boost for Monticello andLawrence County, a new armory is desperately needed there, Evanspointed out.

The current base was built in 1953 and is inadequate for trainingthe unit’s men and women and storing the large equipment used bysupport battalions. The base still utilizes a Quonset hut forstorage, a spherical metal shed developed during World War II thathas long since been discontinued by the military.

“This is something that has been needed for a long time, and itwill be beneficial to everybody, including the rest of the nationin some respects,” Evans said. “This is not the usual pork.”

The new readiness center will be located near Highway 84. Theproject has been the Mississippi National Guard’s top constructionpriority for several years, and Monticello officials have lobbiedhard for it during trips to visit with congressional leaders inWashington, D.C.