DIYALA PROVINCE, Iraq - The streets of Tuwaitha, Jisr Diyala, and Jurf Nadaf West are cleaner than ever now that the 1st "Dragons" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division has teamed-up with local leaders in the province, which is north of Baghdad, in order to provide funding for public works projects.

Staff Sgt. Nicholas Lien, a native of Whitewater, Wis. and 1st Lt. Douglas Henry, a native of Edmond, Okla. who represent the Civil Affairs Team for the "Dragons", selected three separate areas within the Diyala Province for joint public works.

The projects are aimed to employ the transitioning Sons of Iraq and disadvantaged residents of the area. The work consists of cleaning up the streets and surrounding areas of trash. Efforts like these increase sanitation standards and will provide protection to local residents and Coalition forces.

In Tuwaitha, a local water treatment facility was chosen as the heart of their efforts. Sheikh Mahmood Jablowi, a local leader, was placed in charge of 118 employees as well as day-to-day operations of the project.

Prior to the projects inception, the water treatment facility was inoperable and trash ridden. Due to the efforts of public works in recent weeks the facility has become fully operational. The water treatment facility once again supplies clean water to the 100,000 people of Tuwaitha and provid employment to 118 local residents.

"I've seen the progress this project has made and I am more than impressed," Lien expressed to Sheikh Jablowi while on a visit to the facility. "It is a good feeling to know that this project has been successful in not only employing the residents of your area, but has been able to provide clean water and cleaner streets for your people."

In the neighboring city of Jisr Diyala, local leader Abdel Hamid was contracted by the "Dragons" to run the public works within the city. The project allows Hamid to employ 69 residents of Jisr Diyala, which is one of the busiest and most populated cities of the Diyala Province. Their job consists of cleaning the area on a daily basis, ensuring the sanitation and protection of the city.

The "Dragons" hope that by providing work and employment, the citizens will become a valuable asset to the community. In addition, new jobs mitigate the possibility that military age men may resort to terrorist activity in order to earn money. The public works projects are geared toward keeping the coalition forces and the local populous safe.

"This program has become a blessing for our community," said Hamid when Lien and Henry visited the area to pay the employees. "The area is cleaner and our people have jobs. Our city is safer than ever and improving daily."

The efforts by the "Dragons" also extend to Jurf Nadaf West, where local leader Sheikh Qais Shuter and the "Dragons" partnered to sponsor a project that employs 195 local residents. The area is a mixture of farmland and industry and was riddled with mounds of trash before the project began. The area has become trash-free as a result of the project.

"Our program is more successful than we could've ever anticipated," explained Henry during a visit to Sheikh Qais' facilities. "We've helped employ almost 400 people and by doing so improved sanitation and increased security within the local cities in Diyala."

The projects have provided a steady income to the residents of Diyala, while at the same time cleaning and securing the cities in the province. The joint public works projects have increased security and positively impacted the local economy. Riding the current wave of success, the "Dragons" plan to continue to work hand-in-hand with the local population on the current public works projects within the area.