- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson has approved the closure of seven armories in a cost-cutting move that’s expected to save the state National Guard more than $268,000 annually.

Hutchinson on Monday approved the closure at the request of the Guard to close the armories in Berryville, Blytheville, Brinkley, Crossett, Helena-West Helena, Rector and Wynne, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (http://bit.ly/1dMepLI ) reported. The number of armories, formally known as readiness centers, in the state will be decreased from 62 to 55.

The Guard in discussions with Hutchinson decided to spare the Walnut Ridge armory, one of the largest of the facilities that were up for closure.

“We knew there was a lot of push-back,” said Lt. Col. Joel Lynch, spokesman for the state National Guard. “There were some good reasons why that community felt like the readiness center needed to stay open. After considering all of that, we saw this as being a good compromise.”

More than 240 soldiers assigned to the seven armories have been reassigned.

Guardsmen soon will begin emptying the facilities that will be returned to the cities they’re in except for the one in Brinkley, which had been donated by an individual. That armory will be offered for sale to the heirs of the original owners.

Lynch said the affected soldiers would begin drills at their new locations by the end of the summer.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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