Ground is broken at Ceres for National Guard armory

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 9, 2000

Mayor Robert Walker, Maj. Gen. James H. Lipscomb III and state Sen. Mike Chaney share a laugh while hoisting the first bit of dirt at the groundbreaking for the new Vicksburg Army National Guard Armory at Ceres Industrial Park Wednesday. (The Vicksburg Post/MELANIE DUNCAN)

Two Mississippi Army National Guard units will have a new training facility to use during the first part of 2002, and officials at the groundbreaking Wednesday said it won’t be a day too soon.

The comments were made at ceremonies on the site where a building will house the headquarters and headquarters company of 168th Engineer Group and Detachment 1 of the 114th Military Police Battalion. The new antebellum style building will go up on a 10-acre tract at the Ceres Research and Industrial Interplex at Flowers.

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“In spite of the (threat of more) rain, its a great day to be out here,” said Col. Jim Sherman, commander of the 168th.

He said his unit and Detachment 1 of the 114th have been in the Keith W. Stainbrook Armory on Army-Navy Drive in City Park for many years and the old buildings have become too small and have become almost impossible to maintain.

“It has served well, but we just needed a more spacious facility,” he said, adding the new building is just what members of the two local units need.

Maj. Gen. James Lipscomb III, adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, said the project taking one of its first physical steps began more than five years ago. It will be, he said, a valuable asset to both the National Guard and to the community in which it is located.

Pointing to an architect’s rendering of the building’s facade, Lipscomb said, “The design of the building will feature antebellum architecture. This is the first time we have built a building that will blend in with what’s already in the community.”

The new armory will share the Ceres industrial park with a country plantation house that dates to before the War Between the States, one of many structures in Vicksburg and Warren County that predate the war.

The adjutant general said the building will enclose 48,000 square feet and will be at least five times the size of the Stainbrook Armory at City Park in Vicksburg. In addition to office space and training facilities for the 168th and the MP detachment, the building will have a soil testing laboratory and a design and drafting room needed by the engineer group and a helicopter pad.

After thanking a large group of people who contributed to the project, Lipscomb singled out Rep. George Flaggs and Sen. Mike Chaney, who sponsored and pushed through the legislation that provided the $2.5 million in state funds and U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran and Trent Lott who made sure $5 million in federal funding was made available.

The site at Ceres is a result of a deal forged between the Mississippi National Guard and Military Department and the Warren County Board of Supervisors and the Warren County Port Commission.