Fort Bragg opens new child development center

By Tina Ray/ParaglideOctober 1, 2010

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Major Larry J. Baugess Jr. was a battle hero and a devoted Family man. He died in Pakistan, at the age 36, in May 2007.

On Wednesday, Fort Bragg dedicated the Baugess Child Development Center in his honor.

"I am delighted. I think this is a wonderful way to honor Larry," said his widow, Wesley, after the dedication ceremony. "He was a wonderful father and loved kids."

Wesley said her husband demonstrated that love by visiting classrooms, coaching baseball and playing games with their daughters, Ryann and Ellie Baugess.

"Naming this child development center after him is perfectly fitting," said Wesley.

No other facility could be more appropriate than a child development center, said Col. Martin P. Schweitzer, who was Baugess' brigade commander at the time of his death.

"Larry Baugess did not fall short ever. Family first was exactly who he was and everything else was second," Schweitzer said.

Baugess CDC is the first in a second wave of CDCs that will open on Fort Bragg, in keeping with the Army Family Covenant, said Col. Stephen Sicinski, Fort Bragg Garrison commander.

The covenant is a promise that the Army has made to provide Soldiers and their Families a quality of life commensurate with their service, Sicinski said.

Within the next 18 months, another youth center and seven CDCs/school age service centers will open to serve Fort Bragg Families, Sicinski said.

Baugess CDC is located between Longstreet and Manhay roads and will serve up to 144 children from six weeks to five years old, officials said. It is a 12,897 square foot facility that cost just under $5 million.

"The new center will help us meet an ever increasing demand for child care for infants through preschoolers, and pare down a wait list for full day care that now hovers around 700 children," said Karen Miller, chief, Child, Youth and School Services.

The number one priority of any Soldier is making sure that the Family is cared for, Baugess said. The new CDC lets a Soldier know whether here in garrison or deployed, that the Family is indeed cared for and it helps that Soldier to focus on his or her job.