FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Community members and officials celebrated the grand reopening of the Fort Rucker Base Supply Store during a ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 20.

The store benefits the military and civilian community by providing office supplies to many post organizations and employing blind and disabled people.

"This base supply store provides a great resource for us. This is the right cause and the right thing to do," said Col. James A. Muskopf, Fort Rucker garrison commander.

The 5,000-square-foot facility, located at 1332 Night Hawk Street, replaces a World War II-era warehouse facility that didn't provide employees and customers adequate lighting or heating and cooling services, he said.

Base supply store purchasing technician Ann McKenna, who is legally blind, said the new facility will improve her employment experience and hopefully attract new customers.

"It's wonderful and so nice compared to what we had. It's clean and the customers will be happy," she said.

McKenna said it's important for the store to employ visually-impaired individuals so they can have co-workers who understand their struggles and an easily accessible work environment.

All cash registers and computers are outfitted with special software to aid those who are disabled or completely blind. Three of the store's seven employees are visually-impaired to some degree.

"Individuals with disabilities are capable and dependable members of our workforce," said retired Col. Kermit Jones, Committee for Purchase from People who are Blind or Severely Disabled chief of staff.

The lighting fixtures and flooring were specially designed to accommodate those with limited vision, said Bob Ward, National Industries for the Blind Base Supply Center Program director.

The Base Supply Store features many products made by blind or severely disabled workers, he said, and offers "a one-stop shop office supply environment."

"By selling blind-made products here, it creates employment for blind people in Alabama," said Terry Graham, Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind president.

"This is the first base supply store that AIDB has built," said Billy Sparkman, Alabama Industries for the Blind executive director, in a recent press release. "AIDB is grateful to the continued support and commitment from Fort Rucker personnel, which was integral in seeing this project to fruition."

With manufacturing facilities in Talladega and Birmingham, Alabama Industries for the Blind also operates supply stores on Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga., and on Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

Anyone with a government purchase card may shop at the base supply store here. Hours are from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. weekdays.