New Army Lodge rolls out the 'roten teppich'
September 26, 2011
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- Hotel manager Waltraud Schill-Rueckert wants the very best for her guests.
And even though the new Army Lodge was booked solid for its grand opening, here, Sept. 19, she and her staff went to great lengths to ensure even the guests at the ceremony felt welcome.
Following the official speeches, six children decked out in flower-girl and ring-bearer duds handed out roses and spread petals on the ground as nearly 200 guests ceremoniously entered the new lodge.
However, the preparations for this day began well before the children, the majority of whose grandparents are lodge staff, were even born.
The lodge was part of the Efficient Basing Grafenwoehr program, which consisted of nearly 80 projects spread over seven years which totaled more than $1 billion. EBG was a unique partnership as representatives from the garrison's Directorate of Public Works, Corps of Engineers and local German contractors operated out of a centrally located unit, or baudeinstelle.
Although the baudeinstelle was officially dissolved last year, some projects, like Family and Morale, Recreation and Welfare's new Outdoor Recreation facility at Dickhaeuter Lake, and the Netzaberg Chapel, are still in progress.
During the ceremony, speakers like Kathy Aydt, the deputy garrison commander for U.S. Army Garrison Grafenwoehr, focused on the big picture and the impact the lodge will have on the community.
"(This) marks another milestone for improving the quality of life for Soldiers, civilians and their family members," Aydt said.
When Schill-Rueckert took the podium, she thanked her 35-member staff standing at stage right and stressed the teamwork that ensured the lodge's success as it transitioned from the old building.
"Believe me, I couldn't make all these beds myself," she said.
One her staff members, Iris Montemayor, probably could, though. Montemayor bested more than 100 supervisors across the Army and received the Lodging Supervisor of the Year Award from Dan Gasparino, acting director for FMWR programs within IMCOM Europe Region, at the ceremony.
Additionally, Lt. Col. Michelle Garcia, deputy commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Europe District, presented Schill-Rueckert with a "key" to the lodge.
Throughout the ceremony, Susanne Bartsch, emcee and community relations officer for USAG Grafenwoehr's Public Affairs Office, effortlessly translated speakers' remarks and off-the-cuff comments.
Though not necessarily unique to ceremonies in Grafenwoehr, the presence of both languages was a nod to the diverse audience, which included everyone from construction workers to local buergermeisters, and echoed the baudeinstelle concept that contributed so much to the project's success.
However, as the ceremony ended, some gestures, like the smiles on the six children's faces as guests entered the lodge for refreshments, required no translation.
"My team and I are looking forward to serving you," Schill-Rueckert said.