The Oklahoma Army National Guard armory at Okmulgee is going to be completely renovated.
Built in 1977, the armory work is expected to be completed in a year at a cost of $6.4 million.
Monday morning that work started with destruction of an interior wall by several special guests including Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the state National Guard Adjutant General, Jill Castilla, the civilian aide to the Secretary of the Armm for Oklahoma, State Sen. Roger Thompson, State Rep. Scott Fetgatter and Okmulgee Mayor Steve Baldwidge. Each took a turn with a gold-colored sledge hammer ripping through the sheetrock.
Planned upgrades include updates to fire-suppression and alarm systems, improved energy management and conservation, expanded parking, improved force protection methods and modernization to meet current occupational health requirements. The renovation will extend the life of the Okmulgee Readiness Center by approximately 15-20 years.
Gen. Thompson told guardsmen, state and federal legislators and citizens Monday morning that the, “armory has been overdue for a facelift for a long time. This renovation will give generations of Oklahoma an opportunity to enjoy it.” He pointed out the armories around the state are a cornerstone to each community they are in.
Castilla, who served in the guard unit at Okmulgee, said that experience, “changed my life and made me what I am today.” She said the national guard is made up of community members helping other community members.
Sen. Thompson told the nearly 30 people attending that one of his first meetings during his kickoff campaign in 2014 was at the Okmulgee guard armory. “This has been on my radar ever since. Now as chairman of the appropriations, I am glad we are able to put money back into our guard facilities.”
Rep. Fetgatter reminded everyone that less than one percent of United States citizens, “are willing to sign a check payable upon their death to the citizens of the U.S. We need to remember that every day since 9/11 the guard has had men and women deployed around the world. You deserve the best facilities and tools to do your job.”