Mott is losing its National Guard unit.
By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
After avoiding the cut in December when two other communities lost their units, Adj. Gen. Alan Dohrman informed community leaders that the 1st of the 816th Horizontal Company in Mott would be ceasing operations in August of 2017 after nearly 60 years of service. According to Mayor Troy Mosburcker, members of the city council, school board, and American Legion were in attendance at the meeting in which Dohrman was present to tell them in person. Mostbrucker appreciated the gesture of actually coming to Mott to deliver the news.
“General Dohrman was very up front with us,” Mosbrucker said. “It was a very hard thing for him to do.”
Dohrman said the decision to stop operations in Mott was based on the type of unit in Mott, and that was how they made decisions on all the towns affected by the change.
The notification came 17 months prior to the actual closing date to allow the city time to prepare and adjust, Mosbrucker said. Dorhmann added that there will be a process for the transition periods, and that they will work with each town to meet the end date.
The towns of Rugby, Bottineau and Grafton will also be losing their guard units. Two units stopped drill in February. Currently 13 armories in North Dakota have National Guard presence.
The change is part of what seems to be a current trend of downsizing smaller units in an effort to organize ‘readiness centers’ along major highways, according to Mosbrucker.
The North Dakota National Guard has seen its numbers decline in recent years, hovering around 3,000 service men and women. Dohrman also told The Herald that because of the declining numbers, it is hard to support National Guard units in communities like Mott.
Dohrman added that “this decision was not taken lightly, and we appreciate the partnerships and outstanding support from all our communities affected by the change.”
Since 1961 the National Guard has kept a presence in Mott, and Mosbrucker said that it has been a boost in their economy, with guardsmen coming and staying one weekend of every month. On a given training weekend, Mott can see an influx of nearly 40 people. That’s 40 people that spend money around town on fuel, restaurants and hotel rooms.
“We’ll have to figure out ways to make up the money they spent,” Mosbrucker said.
The city will also have to find a way to cover the loss of income. The Mott Armory is city-owned and leases it to the National Guard for just over $20,000 a year, according to Mosbrucker. The guard is helping though, in regards to their yearly rent.
Mosbrucker said that to help sway the loss of income, the National Guard will be paying one more year’s worth of rent past the August 2017 closure date, essentially giving Mott a two-year notice of the closure.
“They’re going to continue to pay rent for one more year after they leave,” Mosbrucker said.
Mosbrucker said Mott is a hot spot for guard duty, and that soldiers from all over the country hand pick the community for their training.
“The soldiers that come to Mott, they pick to come to Mott,” Mosbrucker said. “They drive from all over, they’ve had soldiers driving from Minneapolis (Minn.) to have guard in Mott, they had a soldier that was from Oklahoma that drove to Mott, because they like the Mott unit.”
The unit in Mott is an engineering company, and according to Mosburcker this was one of two construction-type units in the state.
“North Dakota has two of these units, and one of them is going to go away,” Mosbrucker said.
Things will be a little different in the community once the guard moves out. They have kept a steady presence for so many years, and the town enjoys having them, and Mosbrucker said they have been role models to the kids of Mott.
“With the military downsizing, you hang on as long as you can,” Mosbrucker said. “It was a pleasure having them in Mott for as long as we had them.”
In an emailed response to The Herald, Adj. Gen. Alan Dorhman said this of Mott:
“We would like to thank Mott and all the communities for your overwhelming support throughout the years. We appreciate the open and honest dialogue we had about the divesture of the 816th Engineer Company. You have always been a valued community partner and we will continue to support the communities throughout the state.”
A phone message to the local Mott unit were not returned by the time the paper went to press.