Saturday, December 22, 2007

TOP STORY >>Cabot armory gets $840,000

Leader staff writer

The $555 billion omnibus spending bill that has passed both houses of Congress includes $840,000 for the Cabot Readiness Center estimated to be ready for use within three to five years.

Although the bill is only a plan for spending and not an appropriation, Brig. Gen. Larry Haltom with the Arkansas National Guard said this week that the promised money will pay for the design and environmental impact study for the readiness center, or armory as local National Guard headquarters have been called until recently.

Mayor Eddie Joe Williams has been working to get a new armory to replace the temporary one on Hwy. 367 since he took office in January.

He said Thursday that he had been in contact with Congressman Marion Berry, D, Gillett and as far as he and the congressman are concerned, “it’s a done deal.”

The entire project has been estimated at $8 million. The city purchased the land for the project for $399,000, with the state paying $350,000 of that amount, and then turned it over to the Arkansas National Guard which will build it using federal money.

The facility will sit on 15.5 acres in the industrial park on Hiwy. 367 near the new railroad overpass that is now under construction.

Williams says building the armory is “the single biggest thing for Cabot in recent history” and that it will have an economic impact on the city of $1 million or more a year.

At the end of his fourth month in office, he traveled to Washington to build support for the armory with the state’s congressional delegation.

By mid July, the city council had agreed to purchase the land.

Williams’ push for an armory in Cabot was the second in recent history.

When Joe Allman was mayor about six years ago, a group of local residents including Allman’s director of operations were able to get the temporary armory.

On the evening the council agreed to purchase the land for the armory, Hipp thanked the men who helped in that effort.
In addition to Hipp and Allman, the men who started the process of bringing an armory to the city are Fred Campbell, Don Elliott, Wayne “Moose” Cunnis, Bill DeVoss, Gary McMillan, and Charles George.

The state has not built a new armory since September 2005 when a $4.25 facility went up in Warren.

Since the armory will be built near the overpass that will be used by school buses, Williams says the location will be good for recruiting.

He also says he also hopes it will have a positive impact on his efforts to get federal money to build a north interchange that is part of his three-phase plan to connect Hwy. 5 to U.S. 67-167.

The spending bill also includes $10.7 million for the Little Rock Air Force Base/Jacksonville Joint Education Center, $9.8 million to repair and update runways at Little Rock Air Force Base, $1.9 million for an urban-assault course at Camp
Robinson, $18.4 million for the General Equivalency Diploma Plus program complex at Camp Robinson’s Professional Education Center.

There’s also $9.8 million for the Grand Prairie Construction Project, $2.7 million for a Bayou Meto study, $3.1 million toward study and engineering of a new I-630/I-430 interchange and $1 million for the Clinton School of Public Service.