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Officials Debate Armory’s Future

The Harrodsburg Herald/Robert Moore
Although the building is tied up until 2027, officials are debating the future of the former National Guard Armory on College Street.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

Some in the community are looking at using the former National Guard Armory as the future home of the Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame.

Jack Mattingly, a Vietnam veteran and one of Kentucky’s leading advocates for veterans, is asking for support from the city and county government in using the armory.

Mattingly is the driving force behind the Traveling Kentucky Vietnam Wall. He was inducted into Kentucky Veterans Hall of Fame in 2017. He said the hall of fame was founded in 2014 and has about 25 members so far. He said the hall does not memorialize veterans’ military service.

“It’s what you’ve done to support the community,” Mattingly said. “It’s what you’ve done since you got out.”

He said the hall of fame would draw visitors to the area.

“We’re in the center of the state,” Mattingly said. “The tourism would bring money into Harrodsburg.” The fees collected could be used to cover expenses, he said.

“It’s almost a no-brainer,” he said.

A former helicopter door gunner in Vietnam, Mattingly often made medical runs, where he promised dying men to pass on their last words to their loved ones. Trying to fulfill that promise, Mattingly and his wife, Kathy, brought the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall to Anderson-Dean Community Park in 2013, drawing 60,000 visitors, Mattingly said. In 2017, they built the Traveling Kentucky Vietnam Wall to honor the 1108 Kentuckians who served in Vietnam, with the goal of stopping at every county in the commonwealth.

Mattingly said he would like to make the armory the permanent home of the traveling wall.

“We’re looking to a place to retire that wall,” said Mattingly.

Last week, he appeared before both the Harrodsburg City Commission and the Mercer County Fiscal Court to ask for their approval before presenting anything to hall of fame’s board of directors.

The National Guard Armory is located at 130 North College Street and currently serves as home of Mercer Area Family Education and Wellness. MAFEW ran a daycare center in the building until June 30, said Debrah Pierce, the CEO and office manager.

“The organization is still open,” Pierce said Tuesday. “The daycare is closed.”

Jessica Espinosa sued MAFEW earlier this year after Espinosa’s son, Asher fell into the pool “for a prolonged period of time” at the Anderson-Dean Aquatics Center on June 1. The lawsuit contends MAFEW workers failed to use a supplied life jacket and failed to supervise Asher, who is nonverbal and “suffers from autism spectrum disorder’ while he was around the swimming pool, according to the lawsuit. On behalf of her son, Espinosa is seeking past and future medical expenses; past and future mental and physical pain, suffering, mental anguish and inconvenience; punitive damages.

The daycare remains closed, but MAFEW staff, including Pierce, are still working at the building.

“We haven’t made a final decision on what we’re going to do,” Pierce said. “When we make our final decision, we will convey it to the mayor.”

The armory is owned and maintained by the City of Harrodsburg. Officials say it is tied up until 2027. At last week’s city commission meeting, Mayor Sam Carr said Mattingly wasn’t the only one with possible plans for the armory.

“We’ve been approached by others interested in the building,” Carr said.

For the rest of the story, check out this week’s edition of the Harrodsburg Herald. Click here to subscribe.

1 Comment

  1. mary on October 5, 2023 at 7:31 pm

    You left out vital information. Division of Child care or department of community base services did not find any wrong doing or substantiate any evidence of harm to any children in that program.
    Only 3 employee left at agency the other 16 were let go with no servance or finicial support from agency.
    Really do fact checking before writing articles that affect so many people. You could have made this amazing article about possibilities of building instead you manipulated words and reported half truths like always Mr. Moore. It is truelly shameful the newspaper let you run article degrading business that served community for over 10years and had amazing impact on over 100s of children in last 10years.

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