Civilian-Military Council Meeting Focuses on Growth
By Sarah Steele Wilson
Aug 10, 2012, 15:21
photo by Sarah Steele Wilson Prince George County Administrator Percy Ashcraft shared an update on the host locality.
Military and Civilian leaders flocked to the Redemption Inn and Conference Center in Prince George County on Thursday for the quarterly meeting of the Civilian-Military Council.
The council was established in 1986 to promote cooperation and communication between Fort Lee and the communities that surround and support the base.
Thursday’s meeting was the first since Fort Lee announced that the post’s sole deployable unit, the 49th Quartermaster Group, will inactivate in September.
“What will it really do to our footprint?” asked Fort Lee Garrison Commander Col. Rodney Edge as he addressed the audience of local officials. “Nothing.”
While approximately 1,000 soldiers from the unit will be reassigned, there are other military organizations waiting to take their place. Edge said he has heard from five or six organizations that want to locate at Fort Lee.
“As people leave, we will probably replace them with other units that are coming on,” he said.
With the Department of Defense facing budget cuts for the first time in years, Fort Lee will be changing it’s gate policies to more effectively utilize a smaller staff.
The Sisisky Gate will become the main access gate and will be open 24 hours a day. The Mahone Gate will stay open until 1 a.m. to better accommodate guests at the Army Lodging facility currently under construction.
There will also be adjustments of hours to several other gates, but Edge said the Sisisky Gate can always be relied on.
“It will always be there for you,” he said.
Edge also said that there will be a meeting of the Sustainability Conference, an effort between Fort Lee and community stakeholders focused on finding the most effective ways for the post to perform its mission while respecting local concerns and resources, on Tuesday at the Hopewell Library.
“Where we are going and what can we do to develop the right kind of partnerships to get there,” he said, describing what the focus of that meeting will be.
Percy Ashcraft, County Administrator for this quarter’s host county, Prince George, highlighted some recent events for the county, including the loss of Captain Jesse Ozbat in Afghanistan.
He also mentioned that the new Animal Services Center is nearly completion and plans to renovate the old North Elementary School and transform it into a recreation center are under way. The county recently received a grant from the John Randolph Foundation that will allow the county to purchase exercise equipment to create a “wellness center” at the recreation facility.
Ashcraft also announced the creation of a new county website and the localities move toward more modern communication methods, including Twitter and Facebook.
Chesterfield’s Assistant Director of Economic Development, Karen Aylward said the county is preparing to collect public comments on it’s new comprehensive plan, which, she said, will focus more on revitalizing some of the older areas of the county following a period of rapid development in the area that created a focus on managing growth.
Scott Davis, Mayor of Colonial Heights, said that the city has about $40 million worth of reinvestment projects slated to take place on Boulevard in the near future. He said while business growth has been focused on the Southpark area in recent years, Boulevard is a historic business area for the city and one they are anxious to revive.
For Hopewell, upcoming and nearly completed building projects was the focus. Herb Bragg, the city’s public affairs coordinator, said that Ashland will be investing approximately $39 million in its Hopewell site. Plans are also moving ahead on a $4 million renovation of the Beacon Theater and the improvements to Hopewell High School are almost complete.
Dinwiddie County Administrator W. Kevin Massengill and Petersburg Mayor Brian Moore also provided updates on their localities.
Sports tourism emerged as a focus of continued growth for most localities present.
Also at the meeting, Porcher Taylor, a veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam announced his intentions to establish a local organization to preserve the legacy of those who have served the country.
He said that with 1,000 World War II veterans dying everyday, he hopes to connect with other local veterans as soon as possible.
“We need to perpetuate that legacy,” he said.
He asked that veterans of WWII and the Korean and Vietnam Wars call him at (804) 861-5472.