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Guard considers closing three armories in region.

Low troop levels and possible budget cuts are squeezing the Arkansas National Guard.

Maj. Gen. Bill Wofford, the state's adjutant general, said the guard may close six armories in rural areas, including three in southern Arkansas, but no decisions have been made. He said Governor Mike Beebe must approve the closures and won't announce his decision until February.

The southern closures could occur at armories in De Queen, Helena-West Helena and Perryville. Armories in Rector, Forrest City and Marked Tree are also being considered. Each houses fewer than 50 soldiers. At least 50 soldiers need to be stationed at each armory for it to receive enough federal funding to cover operating costs.

Units from the armories would be stationed elsewhere in the state. Helena-West Helena troops would move to Stuttgart, De Queen to Mena, Perryville to Morrilton, Rector troops to Walnut Ridge, Forrest City to Beebe and Marked Tree to Harrisburg,

Mayors in the affected towns cited damage to local economies and curtailed emergency response as issues with the proposed closures.

About 200 armories were closed across the country in 2005 by the Base Realignment & Closure Commission. Eleven Arkansas armories closed in Highfill, Barling, Hot Springs, Camden, Arkadelphia, Pine Bluff, El Dorado and Jonesboro.
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Title Annotation:SOUTH ARKANSAS
Author:Jones, Luke
Publication:Arkansas Business
Geographic Code:1U7AR
Date:Nov 7, 2011
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