(Radio Iowa) – The Iowa National Guard armory in Centerville in south-central Iowa’s Appanoose County ended its tour of duty on Friday. Iowa Guard spokesman, Colonel Greg Hapgood, says the closing is part of an ongoing plan to consolidate and update facilities. “What happens is, the unit is transferred to another armory to consolidate forces at that armory. In this particular case Company A the 224th Engineer Battalion — which is a forward support company – has been moved to the Fairfield armory,” Hapgood explains. “Those 50 soldiers will train at the Fairfield armory instead of Centerville.”
Hapgood says the impact on the soldiers is a positive one. “Nearly 80-percent of that unit would actually save more than an hour of drive time by moving to the Fairfield armory,” according to Hapgood. “We look at a lot of different factors, but what is most important is are we using the time of these soldiers wisely to try and maximize the training that we have.”
The Iowa Guard has closed 12 armories since the consolidation plan started in 2000. “Generally once the armory is closed it goes through a real estate action transfer process with the state of Iowa. Once that process is finished, the armory is typically offered to the city or county in which it is located.” Hapgood says.
He says the communities can usually find a good way to use the facilities. “Some use them for city works buildings, others use them for other uses,” Hapgood says. “There are some that are very creative — for instance — Glenwood has basically turned theirs into a community fitness center. Which has just been a tremendous repurpose of that building there.” The 21,000 square foot Centerville armory was built in 1992.
Hapgood says the consolidation program is ongoing. “We’re looking at other locations around the state to make sure we get the most efficiency out of all of our armories. Right now we ware in 40 different communities with 52 different armories. So, it’s important that we use the taxpayer funds wisely and get the most efficient use out of those armories,” Hapgood says.
Other cities along with Glenwood that have seen armories closed are: Sioux Center, Villisca, Mapleton, Atlantic, Clarinda, Hampton, Jefferson, Chariton, Newton, and Eagle Grove.