Winfield, Kingman armories to close

Army National Guard armories in Winfield and Kingman will close.

Kansas adjutant general Maj. Gen. Tod Bunting announced Friday that the armories would be among the 18 closing across the state due to budget cuts. He said this will not diminish their mission.

"We will still come out in the dark of night" to help Kansans recover from disasters, he said.

"We clearly understand that if this is your community and your armory, you are disappointed by this action," he said. "We ask for your understanding."

He said the armories in Wichita withstood the latest budget cuts, but would be looked at in the next two years; there will likely be more such cutbacks.

The armories in Kingman and Winfield employ one full-time person apiece; Kingman trains 50 soldiers on weekends, Winfield 25.

The closure won't hurt the Kingman economy, City Manager Frank Soukup said: Business is good, retail is good, and the money brought in by the local 1 percent sales tax has not diminished.

The armory in Winfield gets a lot of use and not all by the National Guard, Winfield Mayor Phil Jarvis said. Locals use the building for community events such as dinners, weddings and country dance lessons, and that will not change, he said.

The closing will not seriously affect the local economy, but Winfield has plenty of financial worries, he said. The diminished national economy and state legislative changes about tax exemptions for machinery have reduced city revenue.

"We're worried that we're not going to have enough in our coffers to do basic things," he said.

The Kansas Adjutant General's Department announced Nov. 25 that it would close 18 of its 56 National Guard armories. The proposal is part of Gov. Mark Parkinson's latest budget reductions.

Personnel at the closed armories will retain their jobs and be transferred to another location, officials said. The number of National Guard units in Kansas will not change.

Bunting said the closings will save nearly $157,000 in the current budget year and more than $260,000 in the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Operations will be consolidated at the remaining 38 armories. Equipment and personnel will be transferred to those locations through the middle of 2010.

The other armories being closed are in Atchison, Burlington, Chanute, Cherryvale, Council Grove, Fort Scott, Garden City, Garnett, Goodland, Horton, Larned, Phillipsburg, Russell, Sabetha, Salina and Troy.