Fort Campbell joined the ranks of other military installations considered an Army Community of Excellence. Campbell joins two other installations for a win in the "Most Improved" category.

The ACOE awards were presented to Campbell, eight other active-duty installations, one National Guard post and one Reserve post, May 5, in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

"I was happy and well pleased," said James Halford, Plans, Analysis and Integration Office director. "I certainly thought we deserved it. I feel strongly that if we had submitted to play in one of the other categories, we would have placed there as well."

Fort Campbell originally thought if they were to win, they would earn $100,000.

There were six finalists in the same category competing for a total of $600,000. When the results came out, only three made the "Most Improved" category and award money was equally divided among the three installations giving each $200,000.

Campbell competed in the "Most Improved" category because they had not participated in seven or eight years and did not have all the data needed for the overall Army Community of Excellence. With the application due soon for the 2010 awards, Campbell hopes to earn the top award and bring $1 million back to the installation.

"We're going for the Gold," said Helen Zachry, PAIO strategic planner.

"The prize money, the recognition and the prestige is higher at the next level," said Randal Campbell, PAIO plans team leader. "We really do believe we are one of the best installations in the Army. That's the very reason we started competing."

As the winners in the "Most Improved" category, U.S. Army Garrisons Fort Campbell, Fort McCoy and Schinnen will be able to spend their $200,000 each on something which benefits their installations as a whole. Every ACOE winner, from the "Most Improved" to the "Gold", is required to use the award money on specific types of projects.

"They have to create an enduring beneficial change to the quality of life of the community," said Tracy Mueller, PAIO plans specialist.

Projects could be anything including the purchase of software, classrooms, child-friendly places and more. ACOE Gold winner Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield used award money to help build a child-friendly facility called Cypress Sam's Treehouse. The Fort Stewart Morale, Welfare and Recreation Web site describes it as a "multi-level indoor structure with seven ball blasters, slides, volcanoes and [more than] 6,000 nerf balls to throw, shoot and play."

Fort Campbell's PAIO is currently putting together ideas on how to use the award money. They plan to form a committee with representatives from the directorates across the installation. The representatives will gather ideas from others within their directorates and the best ideas will be presented for approval.

"I'd like it to be something to enhance our management systems and processes so it's a reinvestment into the ACOE and [Organizational Self Assessment]," said Campbell.

For now, Fort Campbell is working on completing the first step toward the 2010 competition. As of Wednesday morning, more than 75 percent of the OSA surveys had been completed.

The surveys were sent to 590 randomly selected personnel across the installation. The survey and application are part of the packet which will be submitted in July. In August announcements will be made for which installations will receive on-site visits and move one step closer to becoming an Army Community of Excellence.