By Gregory J. Lamoureux
Editor’s Note: This story was first published in our print edition on January 9th, 2020. Keep up with all of Franklin County’s news with a subscription to the County Courier here.
ENOSBURG FALLS: The Vermont Army National Guard’s physical presence in Enosburg Falls will cease to exist. That’s according to guard officials who confirmed that news to the County Courier Wednesday afternoon.
The armory used to be a tank unit, but after deployment to Iraq in 2006, the government transitioned it over to a cavalry unit.
Troops based out of Enosburgh are known as Detachment 1, Alpha Troop, 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment, and 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) of the Vermont Army National Guard.
Since the transition, the number of personnel based out of the Enosburg Armory has drastically reduced.
Lieutenant Nathan Rivard, the spokesperson for the Vermont Army National Guard, said the number of personnel at the armory and how far they have to travel were major considerations for the closing of the unit.
Enosburg’s personnel fall under the Alpha Company, a subset of Alpha company based out of Newport.
Rivard said the Vermont Guard will relocate the soldiers to other Guard Armories throughout the state.
“Some of them will have to travel further, and some of them will have slightly less travel,” Rivard said during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
The guard has been working up to the closure for a considerable amount of time, but no public announcement had been made as of Wednesday afternoon’s press deadline.
One of the major driving forces for the closure is cost, according to Rivard.
“We have a set amount of resources for maintenance and operation,” Rivard said. Spread throughout more armories, there are fewer resources for each unit.
No timeline for the consolidation has been set, according to Rivard, but the Guard is in the midst of planning the closure.
It’s certainly not the only armory in Franklin County- St. Albans and Swanton are both home to their own armories. Swanton is the hub for the mechanical arm of the National Guard for this area.
The Armory, which was part of Bravo company when the Vermont Guard deployed to Iraq in 2006, had a solid tank company until 2009 when the Army decided to move all the tanks to Fort Drum in upstate New York.
Rivard, who grew up across the street from the armory, remembers when the transition happened. “I woke up one morning and they were all gone.”
Rivard said there are 24 active drilling members of the guard that call the Enosburg Armory their home. Instead, they will be transferred to the Northfield site, known as the Vermont National Guard’s Readiness and Regional Technology Center.
Of the 24 soldiers, 17 of them are Franklin County residents. This means that the 17 residents will have to travel to Northfield from Franklin County one weekend a month, and two weeks a year during their drill time.
There will be no loss of disaster response due to the armory consolidation and no soldiers will lose their jobs in the relocation, according to the Guard.
The future of the building is not certain. It’s a state-owned building that could be turned over to the local community. That’s what happened in some other communities throughout Vermont when they lost their local armory.
It’s possible that the building could be handed over to the town or Village for their uses.
Who knows, with a large parking lot and a high-end vault, maybe it’ll be the solution to a new Town Clerk’s office that the town has been searching for.
“We will continue to work with the State and the stakeholders in the community to make whatever decision is best for Enosburgh,” said Rivard in a statement emailed to the County Courier.
Representatives from the Governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment as of press time on Wednesday.
We’ll follow this story as more information becomes available.