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Armory officially opens in South Mountain

June 02, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • A ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday opened the Pennsylvania Army National Guard readiness center in South Mountain, Pa. From left are Brig. Gen. Joseph De Paul, Maj. Daneen Hutton, Capt. Christopher Ream, Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck Jr., state Reps. Dan Moul and Todd Rock, Waynesboro (Pa.) Mayor Richard Starliper and Quincy Township (Pa.) Supervisor Bob Gunder.
Photo by Jennifer Fitch,

SOUTH MOUNTAIN, PA. -- A new armory in South Mountain officially opened Wednesday when Pennsylvania Army National Guard officials cut a ribbon for the $7 million facility.

Guardsmen started moving into the 27,660-square-foot readiness center in April. Blast-proof windows provide plentiful natural light in the building described as state-of-the-art by commanders.

"Here the family can come to gather news, get help with paperwork and even do a videoconference with a soldier who is deployed," said Brig. Gen. Jerry Beck Jr., who is the deputy adjutant general (Army) for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

The readiness center will consolidate the Stryker Brigade Combat Team's Battery B, 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery. The unit had been split between facilities in Gettysburg, Pa., and Waynesboro, Pa.

Sgt. Kenneth Durbin is one of four staff members who works each day in the readiness center. He called the move from Gettysburg bittersweet, even though he described the new building as nicer and significantly modernized.

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"There is a lot of heritage in Gettysburg," he said.

1st Sgt. Shane Sloat already lives and works in his hometown of South Mountain. He's happy to see the guardsmen from Waynesboro and Gettysburg brought together in his community.

"From a command standpoint, it was hard to coordinate from two different locations. And they were older buildings not designed for modern operations," Sloat said.

The new readiness center has classrooms, a gym, a multipurpose room, offices, a storage bay and living quarters.

State Rep. Dan Moul, R-Adams/Franklin, said he hopes the readiness center brings jobs, people spending money and more uses for the nearby South Mountain Restoration Center property. He praised the guardsmen for their work.

"There's no finer group of soldiers I've ever met," he said.

The Waynesboro armory, built in 1936, was to be appraised and sold by the Pennsylvania Department of General Services. Borough officials were trying to obtain it for the local fire department.

Waynesboro Mayor Richard Starliper said Wednesday that the acquisition attempt seems to have stalled temporarily. State Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, said he has continued to talk to the borough council during the early stages of the process.

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