LIMESTONE, Maine — The Maine Military Authority is putting 26 people back to work thanks to a major infusion of funds.
The $40 million from the National Guard Bureau is for the immediate refurbishment of more than 700 discarded United States military Humvee trucks already on site at the Limestone facility.
“This is huge,” Hugh Corbett, Maine Military Authority executive director, said Wednesday afternoon. “That money is for the current fiscal year and we have it in the bank right now.”
Due to a decrease in federal funding, the authority, which refurbishes military vehicles mostly for the National Guard, was forced to lay off 152 of its 350 employees in March 2011.
The 26 workers returning to the facility are being recalled from that layoff, Corbett said.
The authority’s entire budget for fiscal year 2012 had been at $30 million, with next year’s projected to be $26 million.
“This is a huge bonus for us,” Corbett said. “We are ready to start immediately.”
The funds, Corbett said, come from the Guard’s operational and maintenance fund. The money had to be earmarked by Sept. 30 and could not be used for anything other than vehicle refurbishment.
“We were in the position to accept the work,” Corbett said.
Workers at the 10,000-square-foot Limestone facility take the discarded Humvees, which had been in service with U.S. active duty troops around the world, and rebuild them from the wheels up with complete mechanical, electrical and body overhauls.
“When they come off our production line they are just like new,” Corbett said.
From Limestone the National Guard ships the vehicles to its units around the country.
“This funding will not only provide the National Guard with fully refurbished vehicles, but it’s also a shot in the arm for the local economy with the re-employment of a number of highly skilled workers,” U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud said in a release Wednesday.
“This critical funding is an affirmation of the tremendous skill and dedicated work ethic the employees at Maine Military Authority bring to the table,” U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe said in her own release on Wednesday. “It is a testament to all of the men and women at MMA that the National Guard Bureau has recognized the extraordinary value they are able to provide by quickly and efficiently refurbishing Humvees for the National Guard.”
Corbett said this looks to be the beginning of a turnaround at the facility.
“This is a good start and we are hopeful with other programs in development,” he said. “This is the beginning of a new phase [and] we are on the mend, I think.”