Being an armory isn’t what it used to be.

Being an armory isn’t what it used to be.

Two facilities no longer in use — the Fort Scott armory and the old Pittsburg armory, replaced by a newer facility — no longer serve their original function.

But that doesn’t mean they’re not getting plenty of use.

The Fort Scott armory will soon get a new look as the home to Fort Scott Community College’s Construction Trades and Agriculture programs, while the old Pittsburg armory will be the home to the City of Pittsburg’s heavy equipment mechanic shop.

Fort Scott Armory
When the National Guard packed up and moved out of the Fort Scott Armory, it left a valuable piece of property in the hands of the city.

A battle raged between the Fort Scott Police Department and the Fort Scott Community College as to who would get the prime piece of real estate. Eventually, the city opted to give the building to FSCC through a 15-year lease-purchase agreement. Last week, the FSCC Board of Trustees decided just how to use the building.

The college plans to move the Construction Trades program and the Agriculture program into the armory, with classes set to start in August 2011. Further, if space allows, classrooms and offices for the Truck Driving program would also move to the armory.

“We did this for a couple of reasons,” said FSCC president Clayton Tatro. “For Construction Trades, the simplest way to explain it is that is a program that needs a lot of unfinished space.

“With the main gym’s high ceilings and concrete floors, that sets up well for Construction Trades.”

Renovation work is scheduled to begin this fall and continue through next summer.

Tatro said the relocation of the Ag program fits into the college’s 3-5-, and 7-year plans, particularly in the vein of future program expansion.

But with two programs moving into the armory, that leaves space on campus that could be filled.

FSCC will move its Cosmetology program into the Vocational Technology building, and could move the Truck Driving classes there also.

Moving the Cosmetology and Construction Trades programs into on-campus buildings will save the school two leases each year.

“[The armory] really allows us to leverage existing spaces that are right adjacent to campus, it gives us future growth potential, and it opens up a world of possibilities for the college,” Tatro said.

Pittsburg Armory
As for Pittsburg, the National Guard did move out. But not because it was closing down. Rather, the National Guard moved into the new Student Recreation Center/National Guard Armory.

Similar to Fort Scott, the ownership of the armory transferred to the city, but unlike Fort Scott, the City of Pittsburg decided to keep the building rather than give it to other entities.

“The north half of it will be used for water distribution,” said John Bailey, Pittsburg director of public utilities.

“The middle portion will be used for a mechanic shop. When we have to lift up a dump truck for repairs, we have to use a lift. In the old building, there are barrel trusses riveted into the old public works building. If you lift up a truck, it gets into those trusses. The old armory has a high ceiling, so that we can use the lift to fix dump trucks and street sweepers and steamrollers.”

But that won’t be all for the old armory. An emergency generator once used at Fire Station No. 1 will be relocated and hooked up to the armory.

“That way, if there’s a huge snowstorm, we’ll still have power to that building in case of emergency. Right now, we don’t have that ability,” Bailey said.

Bailey said it would be helpful to be able to work on heavy-duty vehicles, especially those that break down during poor weather, particularly if the weather causes power to go out.

He described the facility as a “blessing” for Pittsburg.

“It’s a wonderful building,” Bailey said.

“It gives us capabilities we wouldn’t have and desperately need. It’s a price where we can afford to do it, too.

“It’s hard to duplicate. It’ll certainly going to be a lot better than what we have.

“It’s a productive use of an otherwise empty building.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 132.