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Mann Center closure ceremony set

School district may buy Army Reserve building

A public closure ceremony for the Joe Mann Army Reserve Center in Hillyard is planned for May 26.

Reserve units that have used the center at 4415 N. Market St. since 1958 are moving their operations to Fairchild Air Force Base.

Spokane Public Schools may take over the property for office use. Eventually, the site could be used for a second alternative high school.

The center will be open to visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. May 26, and a closing ceremony will be conducted at 2 p.m. Plans call for Spokane Mayor Mary Verner to speak.

A flag, lowered for the last time under military jurisdiction, is to be presented to a relative of the center’s namesake, Pfc. Joe Mann.

Mann, who grew up in Reardan, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for sacrificing himself in World War II.

He crept up on an artillery position under heavy fire and destroyed an 88 mm gun and an ammunition dump in September 1944 when his platoon, surrounded and outnumbered, attacked a bridge in Holland.

Although he suffered four wounds and had his arms bandaged to his body, Mann insisted on returning to a forward position to stand guard. The next morning, when German troops counterattacked, Mann threw himself on a grenade to save his comrades.

The Joe Mann Reserve Center recently has been home to the 981st Medical Detachment, the 643rd Transportation Company, the 396th Combat Support Hospital, a vehicle maintenance shop and a military attorneys unit.

Most of the reserve units have already transferred to Fairchild, and a 10-member full-time staff is scheduled to depart on May 21.

Procedures for disposing of military facilities give top priority to uses that benefit the homeless, and Spokane Public Schools proposes to house the administrative offices of its homeless program at the Mann Center.

If the Department of Defense accepts the school district proposal, the district would acquire the property for 20 percent of its market value. A 2007 appraisal set the value at $2.1 million to $2.5 million.

Based on the 2007 appraisal, the district might pay $500,000. However, a new appraisal is planned.

The district would make its nonrefundable payment immediately, but would receive a deed only after 30 years of using the site for educational purposes, according to Kevin Morrison, a district facilities and planning specialist.

After some renovation and modernization, the center would be available for community uses when schools are closed.

The school district’s application was endorsed by the Spokane City Council, which set up a “local redevelopment agency” to review proposals.



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