Armory closing may accelerate

The impending and controversial closing of the Felicity National Guard Armory has raised many questions and our elected officials are searching for answers.

“The closing of the armory (which is the training ground for the 216th National Guard Engineering Battalion and the only armory in the county) has been moved up to early November,” said Commissioner Bob Proud in a news release. “This is almost a year ahead of the earlier announced closing date.”

Proud, and others, want to keep the armory open for a number of reasons.

“The 216th has served the county well,” he said. “For example, their service in Iraq resulted in the first meritorious unit commendation earned by an Ohio National Guard unit since the second World War. We do not understand why the timetable for its closing has been expedited in this fashion.”

Proud said that the expedited closure of the armory and maintenance facility will have a detrimental effect on Clermont and surrounding counties.

State Representative Danny Bubp (R-West Union) said that it comes down to county health, safety, and financial issues.

“Many thousands of dollars have been spent on upgrading the armory over the years,” he said. “The guard has been called upon to assist residents in the county during floods (like the 1997 flood), and during severe winter storms. If this armory is closed, it would take hours for assistance to arrive from other locations.”

If the armory is closed, local guardsmen would have to travel over 90 miles to Portsmouth for training, said Proud.

“We are determined to receive answers about the rationale for the fast tracking of the Felicity closing,” he said. “We are hopeful that it will be reversed, or at the very least, delayed.”

Proud, along with a delegation of county officials, are attempting to meet with Ohio Governor Bob Taft to hopefully receive the answers they seek.

Also, county officials are in the process of exploring other options for the armory.

“We just want answers,” said Bubp. “The closure has led to many questions from the community, and as their elected officials, we need to provide them with answers to those questions.”

The Felicity armory is scheduled to close Nov. 12.