Columbia gets new armory

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Soldiers this spring will train and do their Guard duty inside a newly constructed “readiness center” in Columbia, officials said.

The Mississippi Army National Guard, Company E, 1st of the 155th Combined Arms Brigade will move out of the old armory on the city’s north side into a state-of-the-art training center on the city’s southeast side. The move is scheduled for May or June.

The old Columbia facility was one of five Mississippi armories hit by Hurricane Katrina.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“The existing armories were damaged extensively and it would not have been cost effective to do repairs,” said Tim Powell, director of public affairs for the Mississippi National Guard.

Congress authorized $9 million for larger Guard building, and the city of Columbia donated the land on U.S. 98 for the 32,000-square-foot brick structure.

Powell said the new name, the readiness center, more accurately describes the jobs that soldiers do now.

“Traditionally, we’ve had National Guard armories. But now they (readiness centers) are built specifically for a particular unit,” Powell said.

Columbia’s armory is being built with a focus on training. It will feature a commercial kitchen, four classrooms, a physical fitness center, assembly hall, locker rooms, shower rooms and plenty of storage space for Humvees and infantry equipment, Powell said.

Armories in Poplarville, Biloxi, Bay St. Louis and Wiggins also are going through transformations to readiness centers, Powell said.