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Schools, cities look at using armories freed up by Guard relocations

SALEM -- As South Dakota Army National Guard units from six cities prepare to leave their current armories, officials in those cities have made plans to utilize the facilities.

The state Army National Guard announced Friday that units from Salem, Platte, Winner, Miller, Redfield and Webster will be relocated because of federal budget cuts and U.S. Army restructuring.

The city of Salem is leasing its armory to the National Guard and will retain ownership of the facility once the unit has left.

"We'll basically just keep using it the way it has always been used," said Salem Mayor Ken Scott of his local armory, which is located in northeast Salem near the McCook County Fairgrounds.

"It's always available for rent for different public functions," Scott said. "There are quite a few events held out there during the course of the year. That part of it is not going to change at this time."

The Salem unit is scheduled to relocate to Yankton by November. Salem's National Guard armory was completed in 1961.

The Guard said in a news release Friday that a lack of funding for aging facilities was a factor in the decision to relocate the six units.

Platte's armory was completed in 1969 and is connected to Platte-Geddes Elementary. The Guard is leasing a large classroom, three offices and storage space from the Platte-Geddes School District, but all will become available once the unit is relocated.

Superintendent Tony Glass said he will confer with his school board, but the district tentatively plans to use the vacated space for growing elementary classes, staff offices and storage.

Winner's armory, built in 1970, is attached to the Winner High School. The space is leased to the National Guard by both the city of Winner and the Winner School District.

According to Winner School District Business Manager Laura Root, there is a preliminary plan to renovate offices now occupied by Winner's Guard unit into wrestling facilities for the school. The offices are located adjacent to the gym where the gym classes and other events are held.

Units from Platte and Winner are scheduled to relocate to Rapid City and Wagner by October.

Wagner Finance Officer Rebecca Brunsing said the City Council will open bids for the replacement of its Guard armory's gym floor on May 7.

Brunsing said the plan to replace the floor had been in the works before Wagner knew more Guard units would be using the armory.

"It's been in our five-year plan and it came up this year," she said.

Brunsing said the current plan calls for the gym floor to be replaced by mid-July.

National Guard units from Redfield, Webster and Miller will relocate to the new Watertown Readiness Center when its construction is complete in 2013.