Community worries about economic impact of armory closing

Community worries about economic impact of armory closing

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - The Arkansas Army National Guard wants to shut down 8 armories across the state, and 5 are in Region 8.

Blytheville, Walnut Ridge, Wynne, Rector, and Brinkley are all on the proposed plan to shut down armories because of budget cuts.

While it will save money, Region 8 communities fear they'll lose money and more.

While losing the armories will force those in the National Guard to commute to a new location, smaller communities in Region 8 believe it's the economic impact that will hit the hardest.

"Based on the Guard's own figures in 2012, they pump $4 million into the Lawrence County economy," Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp said.

Snapp said he doesn't want to see the armory closed, and he feels it just makes sense for their doors to stay open.

"Walnut Ridge has about 75 people that service this area," Snapp said. "That is the largest of the 8 from, what I understand."

Those 75 people come to Walnut Ridge and spend money in the community.

"They come in about every, every 2 months, about 50 to 70 of them," Brittany Guitierrez said.

Guitierrez is a waitress at a local restaurant in Walnut Ridge. Adriana's Authentic Mexican Restaurant has been serving the National Guard meals for 5 years. Every time the group gets together to train at the armory, Adriana's feeds them.

Guitierrez said it offers consistent business, which goes a long way.

"Help pay for food, cups, you know the waitresses, the cooks," Guitierrez said.

Snapp said Adriana's would just be one of the many to see an impact if the armory were to close.

"It's a big part of our society," Snapp said. "It's a big part of our history, and it has a big economical base in Walnut Ridge."

As for Adriana's, the owner and staff hope the armory stays open, because after 5 years, the National Guard Armory is like family.

"You look forward to seeing them every month, every 2 months," Guitierrez said. "So we will miss them not coming in."

The National Guard is set to present the proposal to Governor Asa Hutchinson in Little Rock Thursday. City leaders were told they should know by the end of May if their armory will close.

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