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Attention on armory
Work could begin this fall
soldier at armory fo1C8A07
Staff Sgt. Anthony Daniel works with a digital skills kit used to train soldiers at the National Guard armory in Cumming. The armory eventually will move from its building on Hwy. 20 to a new facility planned for Pilgrim Mill Road. - photo by Jim Dean
Construction could begin this fall on a new National Guard armory off Pilgrim Mill Road.

Georgia Department of Defense Deputy Adjutant General Michael Fowler said Monday that more than 400 soldiers will be able to conduct drills from the 104,000-square-foot center when it’s finished.

“It’s going to be a modern, state-of-the-art facility,” Fowler said. “It will include an auditorium that will seat about 200.

“When [the community] has overflow or large groups, we can have some joint use. It’s a nice partnership between the city and us and the units that will be there, so we’ll be able to work together a lot.”

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt has seen the designs, which are about 65 percent complete, and said the armory looks like a good fit for the area.

The site will also include the city’s aquatic center and a driver’s services building.

“This is going to be a great asset to our community,” Gravitt said. “It’s going to bring a lot of people to the area and create a lot of jobs.”

The city donated the land for the armory, but the $26 million building will be built with federal (75 percent) and state (25 percent) money.

Construction could begin shortly after the federal funding is made available in October, Fowler said.

He added that the work should take about 15 months.

In the meantime, about 250 soldiers have been using a temporary, “jam-packed” location off Hwy. 20 in the city.

Michelle Doyle, master planner, said the facility will be the headquarters for the 560th battlefield support brigade, a 162-soldier unit.

It will also support the 230th brigade, a 212-soldier unit that is part of the 560th brigade, and the 420th signal company with 56 soldiers.

The facility, Doyle said, will include everything from vehicles and classrooms to weapons lockers and simulator equipment.

Fowler said Georgia’s Army guard has grown about 40 percent in the last five years.

“We’re maintaining our strength in south Georgia, but our growth is really in north Georgia,” Fowler said.

“The Ga. 400 corridor is a very, very nice location for us. There are a lot of high-tech, highly skilled folks, and we’re putting those kinds of units up there.”

City officials, legislative delegates and guard members have worked well together, Fowler said.

Gravitt said the facility benefits everyone in the region.

“We’re having the aquatic center and the driver’s services center and hopefully we’re going to have the North Georgia College & State University there also ... and their ROTC can work in conjunction with the National Guard.”

The college has expressed interest in a locating a satellite campus near the armory. It currently offers an MBA program at city hall.