WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- Fighting fires with civil partners, contracting city workers to save on installation repairs, and guiding foster children to their next step in life were among the group efforts honored Tuesday during the inaugural Army Community Partnership Recognition Ceremony at the Pentagon.

"Across the Army, we are becoming more efficient and effective," said Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy. "Partnerships are an important way America's varsity team is doing more with less, to ensure our resources support Soldiers maintaining their tactical and technical advantage."

"Our partnerships enable us to learn from others, and make us more innovative," he added. "They are a priority, and we are pleased to recognize our winners."

Murphy and other senior leaders, including Lt. Gen. Gwen Bingham, the Army's assistant chief of staff for installation management, awarded the top five Army community partnerships at the ceremony.

REDSTONE ARSENAL -- LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Far from a prototypical Army installation, Redstone Arsenal in Alabama is more of a federal entity that heavily relies on partners outside its gates.

"Everything we do at Redstone now is partnered in some shape or form," said Col. Thomas Holliday, the garrison commander. "It's an Army garrison, but we have 87 tenants and of those only 29 are Army."

With just 350 homes on base, Redstone turned to local governments like Huntsville to help alleviate traffic congestion for the thousands of employees commuting in and out.

"The city helped improve Redstone's transportation ecosystem in multiple ways by building roads to improve key corridors in and out of the arsenal so that 42,000 workers can commute in a timely fashion," said Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle.

Efforts also included the city, along with the state of Alabama and corporate entities, pitching in funds to move one of the base's gates to improve traffic flow.

"This is all funded by public organizations, not the Army," Holliday said. "We expressed the need, and they rallied around and made it happen."

Another neighboring city, Madison, also worked with Redstone, Huntsville and Madison County to secure about $100 million in road projects around the installation, said Madison Mayor Paul Finley.

"Most folks don't move to Madison; they move because they secured a job at the arsenal or the [Cummings] Research Park," Finley said. "The more jobs we bring into this area, the better off the overall community is going to be."

The road improvements will also benefit an ongoing commercial project initiated by an enhanced use lease, which will give office space to defense contractors and other organizations tied to activities at the base.

"A public-private partnership helped create and develop the [enhanced use lease] -- a major commercial development that will provide up to 4.2 million square feet of office space for tenants and contractors working with Redstone," Battle said.

The Army will earn about $4 million each year from leasing the land once it's fully developed, according to the colonel. He said the development is about 15 percent completed, and the Army currently receives about $400,000 annually.

Redstone also linked with the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federally owned electric power corporation, to revamp its older buildings with energy-saving upgrades to reduce future electricity bills.

"With the constrained resources we have, you've got to find other ways of doing business," Holliday said of the partnerships. "They're more efficient and effective."

NEW JERSEY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD -- ROWAN UNIVERSITY

A lack of internal staff to conduct energy audits resulted in the New Jersey Army National Guard starting an internship program to fill in the gaps. Rowan University has since embraced the program, giving interns valuable training and the Guard a cost-effective way to get audits done.

"There are so few qualified energy auditors at the moment and great demand for the service, so we wouldn't be able to afford it without the interns," said Col. Mike Lyons, the New Jersey Guard's construction and facility management officer.

"It is a benefit to the university and students because of this great demand," he added. "They have graduates going out into both the public and private sector with recent and relevant experience."

The intern program has even stretched to other facets in the Guard's energy program.

"They not only do energy audits, but help us in planning and programming new projects, even helping us prepare some level of conceptual designs and scopes of work," Lyons said, adding that Rowan students are also involved in their environmental program.

William T. Riddell, a civil engineering professor at Rowan University, said the intern program offers that real-world experience to both undergraduate and graduate students.

"The projects reflect all of the complexity and ambiguity students will face in practice," Riddell said. "[At] the end of the semester, they can create a final report that makes concrete recommendations based on engineering calculations."

Christopher Moore, a former intern who became the energy manager for the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs Construction and Facilities Management Office, is living proof of the rewards offered by the internship program.

"I believe that helped me hit the ground running when taking my current position because I already knew a lot about the Guard and their unique energy challenges," he said of the program.

"[It] also helped Rowan," he added, "because I understood their engineering program and how to help the students get the most out of their internships and improve the overall partnership."

PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY -- CITY OF MONTEREY

By contracting maintenance crews from the city of Monterey to fix things on the installation, the Presidio of Monterey is planning to save more than $220,000 each year on facilities and construction operations, according to its garrison commander.

Earlier this year, the installation signed a five-year, $8.2 million intergovernmental support agreement with the city, making it the Army's largest maintenance agreement to date. Under it, the installation uses city crews to support services necessary to operate, maintain, inspect, and repair real property facilities.

The work can range from repairing potholes, repaving roads to re-roofing older buildings on base, said Col. Lawrence Brown.

Crews can make quick fixes up to $2,500 without needing to wait around for additional authorization, he said. This allows some broken items to be repaired completely, rather than relying on cheap patch-ups that may later require additional work.

"It really gives them broader authorities to troubleshoot the problem," Brown said. "It opens up the doors to do more things."

The agreement also has city and installation planners working together to tackle mutual issues, such as traffic or noise from spike systems at gate entrances.

"It lets our planners and their planners work together on a common problem," Brown said. "You get away from this 'us versus them.' It's really one team working together."

The elimination of a duplication of service agencies in the local area is another benefit of the partnership.

"You're cutting down the redundancy of service, saving taxpayers' money, and putting precious defense dollars into readiness and training," the colonel said.

As a result of its cost effectiveness, other services have expressed interest in the agreement, which is now being dubbed the "Monterey model," Brown said.

"We want to give the best practices to the other services so they can learn from it, and perhaps they can set up their own agreement," he said.

For now, both partners will keep looking for more opportunities to collaborate in and around the installation.

"This is just the beginning," he said. "I think there's going to be more to come."

CAMP GUERNSEY -- LOCAL COMMUNITIES

Fighting forest fires and bringing in economic development to the local area are the priorities of Camp Guernsey's partnerships in Wyoming.

The Army installation takes part in a fire management plan with Platte, Goshen, Converse and Natrona counties for reciprocal support in wildland firefighting operations, which has significantly decreased response time and increased support and resources, according to Col. John Papile, the camp's garrison commander.

"This partnership addresses cooperation, interagency working relationships and protocols, financial arrangements, and joint activities across 39 federal, state and local fire agencies, which have signed to provide mutual support," Papile said.

The agreement also includes eight hours of reciprocal support between Camp Guernsey and the surrounding Platte County before services become reimbursable.

"The ability to leverage finite fire suppression assets across these organizations is fiscally responsible and represents a fine example of stewardship," he said.

The Wyoming Military Department, in conjunction with the town of Guernsey and the Guernsey Economic Development Board, has also hired an economic development coordinator to implement community development projects and activities.

The coordinator serves as a liaison between the principal partners to spur local economic growth.

"His efforts have born significant fruit, as he secured approximately $6.2 million in grants and special tax levies to fund infrastructure and quality-of-life projects that support the community, installation employees, and visiting units," Papile said.

In the future, the installation plans to build on its collaborative efforts with the local area.

"These relationships have absolutely had a positive effect on community relations," he said. "We look forward to continuing, expanding, and fostering these partnerships to enhance relations and conserve resources."

ALABAMA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD -- LOCAL COMMUNITIES

One of the Alabama Army National Guard's partnerships allows Soldiers to guide older foster children "aging out" of the local foster care program.

Working with the state's Department of Human Resources, Soldiers provide training and career guidance to foster children, while also showing them what the Alabama Guard has to offer as they look to the next chapter in their lives, according to officials.

"This partnership directly enables our ability to reach a group of young adults as they mature out of the foster system, ... and we can assist them with their education and career goals," said Maj. Gen. Perry Smith, adjutant general of the Alabama National Guard.

In other partnerships, local communities have signed letters of intent to give the Alabama Guard up to 40 acres for military construction projects. This multi-community initiative is valued at nearly $2 million in commercial real estate alone, officials said.

The Alabama Guard has also provided training space for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency at its readiness center, saving the agency tens of thousands of dollars in commercial lease costs each year.

"We continue to seek other partnering opportunities all across the state in an effort to grow additional relationships ... [and] conserve valuable taxpayer resources," Smith said.