ABILENE , Kan. - On a beautiful day in Abilene, during its annual Chisholm Trail Days celebration, the Soldiers of the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, and the citizens of Dickinson County reaffirmed their commitment to each other by renewing their partnership under the Army Community Covenant.

"The community covenant we are signing is designed to foster and sustain effective community partnerships to improve the lives of Soldiers and their Families, as well as the partnered communities," said Col. Paul Calvert, commander of the 2nd HBCT, prior to signing the covenant.

Each of 2nd HBCT's battalions is assigned to a particular community within Dickinson County. For instance, the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd HBCT, is paired with Herington and focuses its outreach programs there.

Lynda Scheele of Abilene said the covenant renewal is a major step in the right direction for both Fort Riley and its environs.

"The Families, employers and schools of Dickinson County and the entire (Central) Flint Hills Region greatly influence and strengthen the 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley," she said. "This covenant reaffirms those commitments and shows the results of our blossoming relationship with cities and schools within Dickinson County."

The "Dagger" brigade and Dickinson County have been partnered since the summer 2008. Since that time, the brigade has deployed, redeployed and is currently on the verge of another deployment.

Sheila Biggs, Dickinson County commissioner, said the communities within the county, including Enterprise, Abilene, Herington and others, need to support Family members during deployments.

"For me, the covenant means that we help support those Soldiers overseas, but more importantly help those Families that are in our communities," she said.

Biggs said she has some Army children in her neighborhood, and she always tries to make them feel welcome and supported in the community.

"I think it's very, very important that we do sign it at a countywide celebration such as the Chisholm Trail Days, because all of the community - not just city officials - are involved in this," Biggs said. "So everyone can be aware of the Army's presence in our communities and make them as welcome as possible."

The term "covenant" implies something stronger than a typical agreement, something Calvert elaborated on.

"It's easy to agree on something," he said, "but to actually commit yourself to what is agreed upon and put your full focus and effort into it, is what differentiates a covenant."

Since returning from Iraq last fall, the Dagger brigade's battalions have engaged their partner communities with a multitude of events, Calvert said.

"We've done barn raisings here; we've got adopt-a-school programs, where Soldiers are going into schools; we attend Friday night football games; and we've helped rebuild playgrounds. It enables us to give something back to the community," Calvert said. "And, it's an obvious commitment on the part of the people of Dickinson County to the Soldiers who voluntarily serve our nation."

The Dickinson County Army Community Covenant signing is one of several covenant signings that took place within eight counties in the Central Flint Hills Region through mid-October. In February 2011, the covenants will be taken to the capitol in Topeka and signed by state officials.