Ahoskie Armory will not close

Published 6:29 pm Saturday, March 14, 2009

AHOSKIE – Rumors of the National Guard Armory closing in Ahoskie are apparently just that…rumors.

According to Major Matt Handley, Office of Public Affairs for the North Carolina National Guard, the Ahoskie Armory is not closing.

“The National Guard will maintain a presence in Ahoskie,” Major Handley said when contacted by the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. “We will utilize that facility, it has been a good location for us over the years.”

However, according to Handley, that utilization may not be in the current form.

Currently, the Ahoskie Armory is part of the National Guard’s 540th Quartermaster Battalion.

“We may have a different unit there, one that has yet to be determined,” Handley noted.

The closing rumors first surfaced last week as word spread among those attending the Ahoskie Rotary Club’s Pancake and Sausage Day, held annually at the Armory.

Then, on Tuesday of this week, members of the Ahoskie Town Council discussed the issue during their regular monthly meeting. There, led by Mayor Linda Blackburn, the discussion turned to what role the town’s leaders could play in lobbying to keep the Armory open.

Now that the rumors have been silenced, Blackburn said she was happy to hear the Armory will remain open.

“The National Guard has been an integral part of our town for many years,” she said. “We were prepared to do our part to try and keep it open until we received the news from (National Guard) Major General Ingram saying they were not closing our Armory.”

Even though her fears have been removed, Mayor Blackburn said she was still sad to hear that the Quartermaster Battalion would be leaving.

This isn’t the first time the local Armory has changed “flags” (operating units). Prior to becoming a Quartermaster unit in 2002, Ahoskie Armory personnel operated under the flag of the 119th Infantry Regiment, part of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade.

It is not known at this time when the 540th Quartermaster Battalion will be leaving the Ahoskie Armory.