Four Mississippi Army National Guard readiness centers will close in the fall. One local leader talks about the impact on his community. MPB's Desare Frazier reports.
Nettleton, Mississippi Mayor Mem Riley says he's hearing from businesses they could collectively lose between $300,000 to $500,000 dollars, when the Army National Guard returns the readiness center to the town. Adjutant General Augustus Collins announced they will close centers in Nettleton, Grenada, Lumberton and Mendenhall in October, to save about $130,000 in maintenance and utility costs. Riley says every month about 300 troops train at the center supporting local businesses and providing a sense of security for the town of 2,100.
"You know the citizens of a small town, having a guard unit there, a certain amount of it is security. They're a vital part of the Nettleton community. They're in our parades, our 4th of July celebrations," said Riley.
Army National Guard Spokesman Colonel Christian Patterson says they considered the age of centers, proximity to other locations and population size in their review. The number of centers will be reduced from 83 to 79, but he says every Mississippian will be within 40 miles of one.
"Just because this action has occurred doesn't mean that we won't have a presence there because we have soldiers and airmen who live there who'll be responsive to the needs in case there's an emergency," said Patterson.
Colonel Patterson says staff at the readiness centers will be reassigned to nearby locations. He added more closures may occur, but no time table has been set.