ADC celebrated the defense communities, installations and their leaders who were recipients of the 2016 Defense Community Awards during last month’s Defense Communities National Summit. Below are descriptions of each of the award winners:
- Base Redevelopment Excellence — Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority. The LRA’s redevelopment of 6,000 acres of excess property in western Arkansas under the direction of Ivy Owen has come a long way since the post closed. Chaffee Crossing, a mixed-use, “smart growth” community, has attracted more than $1.1 billion in capital improvements, generated 1,400 jobs and become the home for 1,600 single- and multi-family residences across 19 developments. And more development is on the way, with ArcBest Corp. planning to open a new $42 million corporate headquarters for 975 management employees and the Arkansas Colleges of Health Education opening the state’s first college of osteopathic medicine.
- Community Excellence — City of Sierra Vista. The city’s close relationship with Fort Huachuca in southeastern Arizona is hard to miss. The city maintains the traffic lights, provides library services, collects trash and recyclables, and provides on- and off-post public transportation for the post. The two also share the runway at Fort Huachuca’s airfield along with responsibilities for maintaining facilities there. Most significantly, Sierra Vista has made great strides in water conservation, helping the installation meet environmental regulations requiring it to preserve water levels in the San Pedro River, which is home to a number of endangered species.
- Community Leadership Award — Michael Reese. After realizing Fort Polk, La., was at risk of closure following the 2005 round of base closures, Reese helped found Fort Polk Progress and became the group’s chairman. He then met with the post’s leaders to identify their priorities and reached out to neighboring communities, chambers of commerce, and state and federal lawmakers to craft a plan to address the installation’s needs. The state soon provided funding to upgrade several major state highways to reduce congestion and expand the number of travel routes leading to Fort Polk. In 2013, the organization launched an initiative to increase investment in local schools serving military families and improve their academic performance.
- Installation Excellence Award — Naval Air Station Whiting Field. Whiting Field has worked collaboratively with multiple communities and several counties in Florida and Alabama to improve the quality of life both on and off the installation located on the Florida Panhandle. Partnerships with the state and counties have helped protect the installation’s on-base airfields and 12 outlying landing fields from encroachment through the purchase of surrounding properties. The base also has been recognized by the Navy for its commitment to community service, a distinction its sailors have achieved by mentoring youth, coaching kids’ sports teams, participating in environmental cleanup projects, and working with the homeless and low-income veterans.
- Military Leadership Award — Col. John Devillier. As the commander of the 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Devillier has made it a priority to develop mutually beneficial partnerships with the surrounding community that now serve as partnership models across the country. After standing up a public-private partnership office at the base, Devillier launched initiatives that have offset costs in shared collaborative areas such as training and improved revenue streams in service areas such as recreation and medical services. The base’s partnership with Wright State University offers free graduate school tuition to airmen. The community has benefited from the collaboration as well through efforts such as an internship fair, use of the base’s fire training facilities for students, and partnering with the VA to treat veterans on base.
- Military Leadership Award — Lt. Col. Ralph “E.T.” Taylor Jr. As the 628th Mission Support Group deputy commander at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and the installation’s P4 lead, Taylor has launched a variety of partnerships, including joint medical training with Trident Medical Center, and use of the base’s motorcycle safety track for Trident Technical College to provide professional motorcycle safety instruction to civilian and military riders. A partnership with Berkeley County Library brings a state-of-the-art bookmobile on base to serve personnel when the base library is closed. Soon the base’s 911 calls will be transferred to Charleston’s 911 call center, saving the base more than $500,000 in infrastructure upgrades over the next five years. The base’s partnering initiatives to date will save the government over $900,000.
ADC also honored the following lawmakers with its Congressional Leadership Award:
- Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.)
- Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.)
- Del. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
- Sen. Steve Daines (R-Mont.)
- Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.)
- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)