ALMA, Kan. "This is awesome, the kind of thing we need in the community," announced a 22-year-old farmer, as he herded his pigs to the assigned holding area.

The banner on the stage read, "Army Community Covenant - Supporting those who serve." Another sign to the left of the stage read, "1st Sustainment Brigade, Wabaunsee County - stronger together."

The event taking place was the re-signing of the Army Community Covenant between Wabaunsee County and its partner unit, the 1st Sust. Bde., during the annual Wabaunsee County Fair July 25, in Alma, Kan.

In front of more than 600 citizens and fairgoers, the re-signing of the covenant reaffirmed the county and Fort Riley's commitment to support and sustain each other's communities.

Col. Jeffrey Carra, 1st Sust. Bde.-Rear commander, signed on behalf of Col. Donnie Walker, 1st Sust. Bde. commander, who is currently deployed to Iraq.

During the signing, Wabaunsee County commissioners and city mayors signed the covenant alongside Carra, Command Sgt. Maj. Ray Kenny, 1st Sust. Bde.-Rear command sergeant major, Capt. Jason Patterson, commander of the Special Troops Battalion, 1st Sust. Bde.-Rear, and his Family.

Wabaunsee County commissioner Ervan D. Stuewe highlighted the need for continued partnership between the brigade and the county. Stuewe invited the brigade to be a part of his community, and welcomed the brigade's participation.

The commissioner also acknowledged Fort Riley's senior leadership in attendance, including Col. Kevin Brown, Fort Riley garrison commander, and Ollie Hunter, director of the Mission Support Element, 1st Inf. Div., as well as the spouses of many of the 1st Sust. Bde. leaders.

Carra spoke on behalf of 1st Sust. Bde.'s leadership, when he summarized the purpose of the covenant signing.

The covenant re-affirms the commitment of the Central Flint Hills Region and Fort Riley, with the community promising to provide quality education and quality and affordable housing; sustain and improve local-based services; and promote employment protection and recognition to all servicemembers and their Families.

The covenant commits Fort Riley to sustain and improve Family assistance centers, including services to assist wounded warriors; provide financial support to promote all training programs; and provide for Family assistance programs for the Army to plan and execute training for all Families and servicesmembers throughout the deployment cycle.

"By working together, we will be able to provide a higher quality of life for our Soldiers and Families, and make the Central Flint Hills Region and Fort Riley the number one assignment in the Army," Carra said.

As Carra spoke, more than 600 people from the community cheered. The same number cheered as the brigade's color guard posted the colors, and Maj. Kris Overman sang the National Anthem.

Carra ordered the colors retired, signaling the close of the ceremony.

Soldiers from STB, 1st Sust. Bde., 541st Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, and 84th Explosive Ordnance Battalion mingled with local farmers, as the farmers displayed their cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and other livestock.

Alma residents and local business owners also provided refreshments from the Alma Creamery.

"The soft ice-cream was my favorite, it had a unique flavor, very delicious," said Sgt. Monica Slate of the 1st Sust. Bde.

The brigade will return to Wabaunsee County for additional events throughout the fall, including several Veterans Day activities.

Fort Riley representatives at the signing included Hunter; Brown; Hope Walker, wife of Walker; Donna Rivera, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera, who is deployed to Kuwait; Darlene Thornton, wife of Lt. Col. Marvin Thornton; and Jackie Thomas, wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Eugene Thomas, also deployed to Kuwait.

The Wabaunsee County Army Community Covenant signing is one of several covenant signings which will take within the Central Flint Hills Region through October 2010.

In February 2011, the covenants will be taken to the capitol and signed by state officials.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16