Miss. Guard officially opens aviation facility

TUPELO, Miss. — It was a long-awaited ceremony in Tupelo when state, local and military dignitaries attended the grand opening of a $30 million Army Aviation Support Facility.

The facility will be used by the Mississippi Army National Guard for aircraft maintenance and training. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the facility — one of four in the state — is unrivaled by any other facility of its kind in the country.

Saturday’s ribbon-cutting was the culmination of years of work to get the facility built, The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.

Part of the long wait was because Chickasaw Indian remains were found on the site. Wicker said negotiations with officials of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma were lengthy but both sides agreed to have the facility built on the site.

“This has been a long process, but today shows that it was worth it,” said Wicker, who worked to include a $29.9 million earmark for the facility in a 2007 military construction bill. “This is a facility that is state of the art that will benefit Tupelo and the military. The National Guard is just as important as the active military when it comes to fighting wars today. So having a top-notch facility like this one is beneficial for that cause.”

The facility is nearly 105,000 square feet and sits on 39 acres. Lakota and Apache helicopters will be housed there. Wicker said the new building is one of the most energy efficient buildings of its size in the country.