RENO, Nev. (AP) - The National Guard is working with rural towns in northern Nevada to find new uses for military armories increasingly left empty due to declining enlistments in areas outside bigger cities.
Yerington recently converted the armory built in 1959 in the town 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of Reno into staff offices and the city of Winnemucca plans to assume control of one there next week.
The state Department of Public Safety has taken over the Guard‘s former eastern Nevada recruiting office in Ely about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of the Utah line.
City staff in Yerington reached out to Nevada’s Adjutant General Major General Ondra Berry last year to inquire about buying the armory where guardsmen drilled until two or three years ago, KRNV-TV reported this week.
“The goal is, if we have it and it’s not of use anymore and we can make some kind of arrangements to give it to our rural communities, we’re going to do that,” Berry said.
“It makes a whole lot of sense for taxpayer money and it makes a lot of sense for the rural areas and it makes a lot of sense for the state of Nevada,” he said.
Yerington Mayor John Garry said they were running out of office space in the old city hall building that once was an old firehouse.
“We’ve outgrown it,” he said. “It’s only about a 1,000-square-foot (93-square-meter) facility and literally we had our staff bumping their office chairs into each other.”
The city paid about $225,000 for the 10,000-square-foot (930-square-meter) former armory in September and spent another $120,000 on renovations, Garry said.
City staff started moving in there in January and the old city hall building was sold to the Mason Valley Fire District for $1.
The armories in Winnemucca and Ely also were built in 1959. The last units stopped meeting about five years ago in Winnemucca 165 miles (265 kilometers) northeast of Reno.
The Ely armory had been used most recently as a recruiting office but hadn’t seen any military personnel since 2015. The Department of Public Safety is scheduled to assume control of it March 31.
Yerington plans to name their new office building the Robert Herbert Administration Building after a retired Nevada Army Guard major general from Yerington. Berry said the facility “will be here for several generations” and should last for another 50 to 100 years.
Berry said the unused armories are a sign of a time when fewer and fewer people who are joining the military want to live in rural areas.
“It takes a lot to man, train and equip our military personnel and it just didn’t make sense to have a facility where the majority of our personnel don’t want to live there or the mission doesn’t fit or the community can’t support or they have a long commute to get there,” Berry said.
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