WEST PLAINS, Mo. -- The City of West Plains and the Missouri National Guard signed a lease agreement Thursday that will keep the Guard in south-central Missouri for years to come.
The lease signed at the West Plains Regional Airport means the Missouri National Guard will be staying here at the location in West Plains until at least 2051.
The agreement makes sure that two parking lots around the armory can now be used exclusively by the National Guard.
Brigadier General David Boyle says that may sound trivial but in reality, it means the Guard is staying where it wants to be.
"But to the National Guard it's a huge deal. We have approximately 60 readiness centers across the state. Many of them don't have a single space for parking or a single space for motor pool. This is not the Army of the 1940's where we don't have our equipment local. We actually have our equipment local for our soldiers to maintain and operate. So to expand this capacity for motor pool and parking, makes a very functional facility."
The 1138th Military Police Company was federally recognized in January of 1968, with the headquarters in West Plains and a detachment in Springfield.
Brigadier General Boyle says the Army's plan to divest the 1138th Company from West Plains was brought to the Missouri National Guards attention nearly two years ago.
There are currently five Military Police units at the company level in Missouri.
The West Plains company had 50 soldiers from the surrounding area and they now have a choice.
"They'll either choose to stay locally and transition to become combat engineers or they will decide to go to Springfield, Doniphan or Poplar Bluff to any other location that we have military police units remaining," Brig. General Boyle told KY3.
Coming in to fill the spot of the MP's are engineers.
"We are bringing in an engineer unit. That engineer unit has about 112 and it's growing through forced design updates to Approximately 125 by the year 2025. It's a much larger unit. We feel because it's an engineer unit, that we can recruit the full 125 from here rather than splitting it like we did with the 1138th with Springfield and West Plains," Boyle added.
The new unit will be in place sometime between this September and next September.
David Bossemeyer, Economic Development Director for West Plains, says the new jobs and potential growth will mean a greater economic impact for the city.
"With the unit we have it's approximately a $1.7 million economic impact. This is going to be a larger operation so it's going to be about $3 million."
The National Guard has been in West Plains since 1940.