State, local officials seek compromise on armory

It’s one of those good news/bad news situations, and it may take seven years or longer to implement, but the Lovell community could eventually lose its Wyoming National Guard armory but at the same time maintain the field maintenance shop that currently employs six full-time workers.

Wyoming Adjutant General Luke Reiner makes a point during a meeting with Lovell community leaders Friday morning.

Wyoming Adjutant General Luke Reiner makes a point during a meeting with Lovell community leaders Friday morning.

That was the word from Wyoming Adjutant General Luke Reiner during a meeting with Lovell community leaders Friday morning at the armory in Lovell.

Reiner’s meeting came after nearly a year of fact-finding that followed a similar gathering of community leaders in June of 2012, beginning a process precipitated by a decision by the Wyoming Legislature to “study the status and condition of armories in the Big Horn Basin and consider the potential reorganization of those armories.”

“There will be no decision today,” Reiner said Friday. “I want to make sure we have understood the facts correctly. I’m looking for consensus from you to get legislative support for the road ahead.”

Reiner said he must brief the Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee on June 10.

The Big Horn Basin currently has four armories and one field maintenance shop: armories in Cody, Powell, Worland and Lovell and the shop in Lovell. Reiner said the eventual goal is to reduce the facilities to two armories and one maintenance shop.

It will be a long process of planning and construction and/or remodeling, he said.

“The time lines are long in this process,” the general said. “What we’re talking about today may come to fruition by 2020. But we need to know what direction we’re heading.”

Having four armories “clumped together” in the Basin are simply too many given the current personnel numbers and the ability to budget for maintenance, Reiner said. After last summer’s meetings in the Basin he asked his staff to assess the status of the facilities and the costs of moving forward under various scenarios, considering factors like construction, remodeling and maintenance costs, safety, travel, carrying capacity and recruiting.

“We want to maximize the number of counties we’re in while minimizing costs,” he said. “We want to maximize our presence across the state.”

After presenting demographic information, Reiner assessed each Guard facility in the Basin as follows:

Cody Armory: Untenable (FAA waiver currently in effect);

Powell Armory: Good location, but a little small;

Worland Armory: Very small and wrong location but with a legislative mandated and funded study to explore moving the armory;

Lovell Armory: Old, very small;

Lovell FMS: Too small for equipment (dangerously small).

After presenting other factors, Reiner presented the following construction costs:

Powell remodel: $4.05 million in state funds, $4.05 million in federal funds — $8.1 million total;

Lovell new FMS: Zero state funds, $15.1 million federal funds, $15.1 million total;

Worland new armory: $5.1 million in state funds, $16.5 million in federal funds, $21.6 million total;

Worland new armory and FMS: $4.1 million in state funds, $25.9 million in federal funds, $30 million total.

Courses of action …

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By David Peck

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