Tags: Community & Outreach, Government & News & Crime
Soldiers assist children in and out of the military demonstration vehicles. Caitlyn Walters. (click for larger version)
September 23, 2013CUMMING, Ga. — Forsyth County welcomed the 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade to its new home at the Cumming Regional Readiness Center.
On Sept. 14, city, county and state officials joined Georgia Army National Guard soldiers for the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the 106,000-square-foot facility, 100 Aquatic Center off Pilgrim Mill Road.
"We are very honored and happy we have this great facility right here on the banks of Lake Lanier," said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt.
This facility, built by Cooper Construction, will bring about 300 people to the community every drill weekend said Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth.
With people comes revenue, and Gravitt said it is projected to bring in about $500,000 annually to the local economy.
"We think it will be a lot more," Gravitt said. "This is going to help the economic status of Cumming and Forsyth County."
Georgia Sen. Jack Murphy said the funding for the armory survived two presidential administrations and two governors in the state of Georgia, an unprecedented occurrence.
The $20 million facility sits on 15 acres of land, and there is additional room to expand if the need arises.
The mess hall, or military dining room, will feed 400 people at one time and has the capacity to seat 800 people. It also comes equipped with Wi-Fi connections and three classrooms that will facilitate another 100 people for studies.
The armory offers the community a bridge to military security, and Butterworth stressed the quality of soldiers within the 560th Brigade.
"The Georgia National Guard has identified our facilities, efficiencies, operations, individuals and leadership as the best in the country and that is what you are getting," Butterworth said.
Butterworth also said the facility is the community's home and the doors are always open.
"We want you to know there are no huge gates or wires surrounding the facility, and that's symbolic," Butterworth said. "We want to be the cornerstone in the community."
Hundreds of Forsyth County residents accepted the brigade's invitation and enjoyed the festivities of the grand opening ceremony.
Families participated in a parachute and night vision goggle experience, an airsoft firing range, a rock-climbing wall and bouncy house.
Soldiers helped children climb in military demonstration vehicles, fire trucks and police patrol cars.
"I was so excited to come out today with my 3-year-old daughter," said Tracy Parker of Cumming. "She loved dancing to the music and exploring all the trucks."