Marion, Camden armories to close

Published 11:02 pm Friday, October 2, 2015

Multiple state agencies have been affected by statewide budget cuts passed by the Alabama Legislature.

Along with driver’s license offices, state parks and ABC stores, six Alabama National Guard armories are slated to close. Those six are in addition to 15 that were already scheduled to be closed and consolidated between 2014 and 2017.

Among the six added to the list of closures are armories in Marion and Demopolis. The others are Huntsville, Winfield, Alexander City and Eufaula.

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The armory in Camden was among the original 15 armories scheduled to close, including Albertville and Monroeville, which were already closed, Sheffield, Scottsboro, Vernon, Jasper, Aliceville, Sylacauga, Fort Deposit, Jackson, Brantley, Elba, Geneva and Hartford.

Marion Mayor Anthony Long said the closure, along with the closure of the city’s ABC store and driver’s license office, will all have a negative affect on the community.

“It’s going to have an impact,” Long said, “But we’re going to work on it to see if we can do anything. All of this is going to have an impact on a community that is already struggling.”

Marion’s ABC store is also scheduled to close, along with the driver’s license office.

According to a statement released by the Alabama National Guard, their budget was cut by $200,000 and forced them to reduce their expenses because of “years of sustained funding shortfalls.”

The armories are operated by federal and state governments, and funding is supposed to be split in half.

“Over the past six years, the Alabama National Guard has identified over $100 million dollars of deferred maintenance, repair and modernization requirements for facilities constructed from 1950 to 1990 that fail to meet the Army’s mission requirements of quality, quantity and mission support,” the guard stated in a release.

According to the release, the guard has received $126 million from the federal government over the last six years for its Master Cooperative Agreement, but only $16 million from the state.

According to the National Guard, the closures will help them meet the requirements of the state budget.

The armories that were selected were based on operation costs, armory condition and other criteria. The armories will not close immediately. All armories on the list will require up to 24 months to close, and units affected by them will be relocated.