Topeka A northeast Kansas legislator on Thursday tried to delay the closing of 18 Kansas National Guard armories, but was unsuccessful.
State Rep. Jerry Henry, D-Cummings, said some of the armories have memorials to fallen soldiers and that the state should take time to set up procedures to close the facilities “with dignity and respect.”
Henry, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, tried to amend a bill that makes changes in the budget for the current fiscal year.
He wanted to shift $180,000 to the Kansas National Guard so that the armories slated for closure, could stay open to July 1. He said that would give officials time to figure out how to transfer memorials, some of which had been put in place by family members of soldiers killed in war.
Along with the amendment, he shared with Appropriations Committee members a letter written by Janet Wisdom, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Clint Wisdom, was killed in Iraq in 2004. She raised the question of what would happen to the memorials. Henry also questioned shuttering armories serving Guard members while they are deployed overseas.
But Henry’s amendment was defeated along party lines with Republicans voting against it.
Several Republicans said they felt the armory closings were necessary to help balance the budget and that the shut downs were going smoothly. Some of the buildings are being transferred to local governments that are glad to get them, they said. The bill will next go to the full House for consideration.
The Kansas National Guard has said it plans to close 18 of its 56 armories. Those being closed are located in Atchison, Burlington, Chanute, Cherryvale, Council Grove, Fort Scott, Garden City, Garnett, Goodland, Horton, Kingman, Larned, Phillipsburg, Russell, Sabetha, Salina, Troy and Winfield.