Decision delayed on central Illinois National Guard armory

 
 
Updated 2/13/2016 10:02 AM

DELAVAN, Ill. -- The fate of an Illinois Army National Guard Armory in Tazewell County won't be decided until this summer, officials said.

A meeting was held Monday to try to persuade the Illinois Army National Guard not to close the Delavan armory. But officials decided to delay a decision on the building's future until June, when they will have more information on options.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mayor Liz Skinner said she and other city officials plan to meet again with Illinois Adjutant Gen. Richard J. Hayes, Gov. Bruce Rauner's main adviser on military issues, when he learns whether additional soldiers may be coming to Illinois.

Last week, a group of Delavan students traveled to Springfield to deliver letters and other materials to Rauner in hopes of persuading him to keep the town's armory open.

"We have people who walk there early in the morning. We have dances there. Our Memorial Day service is held there. ... That's the safe place they take all the students (during emergencies)," Skinner said. "It would be a devastating blow to lose that facility."

The armory is home to the Guard's 1144th Transportation Battalion. It currently has 10 fulltime employees and 43 soldiers who visit the armory for training two days each month.

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The building dates to 1938, but the armory's presence in the town can be traced back to 1883.

"There's a rich history and a legacy here," said state Rep. Darin LaHood. "It's an important part of this community."

The Army's 202 Redesign Plan, which seeks to modernize force structures, is what prompted the possibility of closing the Delavan armory.

Although the building is structurally sound, it's "not well-suited" to modern military needs, said Illinois National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Brad Leighton.

The closure would take effect in September 2017.

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