The Jackson County Times was notified by phone Tuesday afternoon that plans were underway to relocate the Florida National Guard 144th to the central Florida area. The TIMES conducted a series of interviews with the following information being made available.
Senator George Gainer of Panama City said he was advised that this had been brought to his attention just a few hours earlier in the day. Gainer immediately contacted his staff to be brought up to speed on the matter. Gainer, a supporter of Jackson County from the ground up, said, “I will do everything I can to insure this does not happen. I want the best for the men and women from this area who have made the ultimate sacrifices, who have fought to protect the citizens of this area, the state, and the nation. It would not be right or practical for these individuals to travel to distant facilities to enhance their service and training. I am asking for everyone’s assistance in making sure the armory does not close.”
Gainer went on to say that in addition to the inconvenience put on the members of the 144th, the loss of the National Guard Armory will be another economic loss to Jackson County that they do not need to sustain.
In an interview with the TIMES, Senator Bill Montford reiterated what Gainer had said, “Rural Florida is already in economic distress and does not need to sustain another economic setback. We will be pulling together to ensure that this does not happen.”
The loss of the 144th at the Armory would leave another building in Jackson County standing vacant and would allow it to deteriorate at a faster pace than if it were occupied. The building is used by citizens and various groups to hold large events and would take that venue away if it were left unoccupied.
Senator Gainer called the TIMES office at press time Wednesday, “I have been in contact with Senator Joe Negron and the Governor’s office and that there are no further plans to close the armory in Marianna.”