The Hettinger Armory is an integral part of the community many don’t seem to give much thought to, unless there is an event there to attend.Posted Jan. 3, 2014
By JAMIE SPAINHOWER
The Hettinger Armory is an integral part of the community many don’t seem to give much thought to, unless there is an event there to attend.
Currently owned by the taxpahyers and operated by the city, the main income from the Armory is rent from the school each year for $10,000.
“It is us using it primarily as an extra gym for grade school or middle age students,” said School Superintendent Adam Hill.
Due to a coating that was applied to the floor in the gym, it cannot be used for athletic events. the floor surface needs to be stripped and redone to make it safe for older athletes to use it without slipping.
The Armory contract was officially approved and awarded to Kolling Construction Company from Dickinson on June 13, 1961, at a cost of $200,000. It took a group of determined individuals to get the National Guard to come to Hettinger, and then get the money needed to build it. The original Armory was built in 1940.
The dedication of the new Armory was a full out event about a year later, when it was officially dedicated May 11, 1962, almost two years from the time the planning committee sent letters in early April 1960 to officially begin the Armory committee, at the behest of the public vote. Letters were sent to various civic groups for representation on what came to be known as the Armory Board of Control. The board had a member from the Chamber of Commerce, the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, the National Guard, The American Legion, the City Council and the Park board.
To the accompaniment of the Hettinger High School band, Rev. Robert Boxrud gave the invocation and Hettinger Mayor T. Barton Stevens welcomed the “huge crowd gathered.” According to Adams County Records archives.
Major General Herbert L. Edward from the North Dakota National Guard presented keys to the new armory to the mayor.
Capt. Jimmy Seamands introduced guests, two of which were North Dakota Sen. Milton R. Young and Col. Lynn Hancock. The Rev. Roger Smith gave the benediction and guided tours of the new building.
The first event held was the Fireman’s Ball that night.
Over the years, the Armory has been used for many events. After the National Guard pulled out of Hettinger, the building was given to the city. But over the years age and time began to take its toll.
Last year it acquired an excellent new sound system, which Bob Hall installed. While there, he discovered many things needing maintenance, with room full of both junk and unusual objects.
Custodian Trisha Schalesky had quite a task in front of her, but has cleaned out and organized the various rooms.
“There was daylight coming in around all of the doors, which wasn’t helping keep it very warm in the winter,” said Hall. “And at one time there was a gymnastics business in there – everything to open a gym is stored in one of the rooms.”
Touring the Armory one finds out just how big it actually is. Mostly the kitchen, gym, locker rooms and meeting room are used, but there are many other rooms that could be used as office space with a little sprucing up.
Some new paint, carpet and an office incubator space is ready to rent.
“Last year when the weather turned bad, we brought the cancer walk in here,” said Hall. The roof has been leaking for some time, he said, and recently the city council has made it possible for some repairs to be made, including the roof and some gutters. Trisha is going to contact Hillyard, Inc. regarding repairs to the floor stripping and waxing machine. Also being investigated is cost estimates to resurface the gymnasium floor estimates from Arden Saunders and Rick Voss for remodeling the meeting room.
Weather stripping has been put in around the big doors where there were large gaps, and the building is clean from floor to ceiling.
It is also used as an official meeting place for the Red Cross in case of emergency.
New steering Committee
Seeing a need to do something, Bob hall gave a presentation to the ACDC about how to market the building. It was decided it wasn’t really under the prevue of the ACDC, but they were willing to help however they could. A steering committee for the armory in October, Members are Al McIntyre, member at large; Anthony Larson, member at large; Curt Drolc, City Council; Jim Long, West River Health Services; Adam Hill, superintendent; Bob Hall, member at large; Kevin Morast, principle, Melana Howe, ACDC and Al McIntyre.
Uses for the building were discussed at their meeting and use as a Community Center when the city received the property seemed to the number one idea, and is still considered in the forefront by today’s City Council, according to Drolc.
Hill told the group the school had applied unsuccessfully for a grant to purchase a large amount of exercise equipment, to enable expanding and moving the wrestling program.
A wellness center was suggested by Larson, and other ideas ran the gamut from reopening the gun/ bow and arrow range, rental of office space, different kinds of exercise and a community events center.
Meetings are the third Wednesday of every month at 4 p.m., and the public is encouraged to attend and give its input.