By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
After several months of only nominal use, Atmore National Guard Armory will soon become home to a new unit.
Sandra Lucas, deputy director of the Alabama National Guard’s Public Affairs Office, recently confirmed rumors that the local military facility will soon become the base of operations for citizen soldiers of the 5001st Detachment, Quartermaster Corps.
“It’ll be what we call National Guard Traditional,” Lucas explained. “It won’t be just for monthly meetings; it’s actually going to be used as a full armory. You’ll have the weekend drills, but it will be manned; there will be a unit in there.”
Lucas pointed out that while the local military facility, located at 1403 West Nashville Avenue, hasn’t been fully utilized in quite a while, it was never abandoned.
“It hasn’t really been closed,” the public affairs specialist said. “National Guard recruiters have had an office presence in there.”
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said he has heard rumblings that a new unit could soon be operating out of the local armory, one that will be responsible for seeing that all other units in the area are fed during their monthly or other drills.
If that is the case, he said, then the local economy could get a significant boost from the deployment.
“I understand that if one of them (Guardsmen or Guardswomen) is from more than 50 miles away, they (Alabama National Guard) will put them up for the night, so we would get the lodging taxes,” he explained. “I also understand that they’ll buy their fuel here, so we’ll get the fuel taxes.”
Jess Nicholas, industrial recruiter for the Escambia County Industrial Development Authority, agreed that there would be positive economic development aspects of the armory’s full use.
“It’s hard to put a number on what the impact would be,” he said. “In general, it will be a good thing to have. There will be some positive effects; it will be a good community involvement situation.”
National Guard officials are still working on the logistics and other aspects of the unit’s location to Atmore and are still not in a position to offer more details.
“It’s not a secret, but we’ve not gotten far enough to tell anybody yet,” Lucas said. “We’re still working on the unit, identification of personnel and all that. We are keeping it open, but it’s still in the works. More details will follow, in terms of dates and timing.”