By Ignacio Rubalcava (USAG Baumholder)April 1, 2011
BAUMHOLDER, Germany - The introduction of James Chen, U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder's new deputy to the garrison commander, was a perfect segue into the agenda for the civic leaders meeting March 16 at the Rheinlander Community Club. After introducing Chen, Lt. Col. Sam McAdoo, USAG Baumholder commander, asked the civic leaders and mayors half in earnest and half jokingly, "Does anyone have a house for rent for Mr. Chen'" The availability of off-post housing was a topic at the last meeting with civic leaders.
"I would like to live in Baumholder but it's very difficult to find a place," said Chen So I need to look either a little north or south of the Baumholder area. It is also difficult to find a place in the Kaiserslautern area because Baumholder people have to compete with people in the Kaiserslautern military community."
McAdoo raised a related issue about housing from the last meeting. Money was to be provided to German home owners for renovation so that they can rent to U.S. Soldiers and their families, but this has not yet come to fruition.
Sean Lambur, chief of the garrison's Plans, Analysis and Integration Office, mentioned that the local state government already has such a proposal on the table, but it is on hold until local state elections are held. "State elections are putting all actions on hold," said Lambur.
Meanwhile, Baumholder continues to evolve. Changes are coming in the way Baumholder is structured, how it operates and how it looks. McAdoo announced that control of Baumholder's Directorate of Logistics is being transferred to the Joint Material Command. The transfer is scheduled to be completed by October 2012, at which time the 61 local nationals who work for Directorate of Logistics will no longer belong to USAG Baumholder. "Some restructuring is expected but I see no major personnel impact," said McAdoo.
Two other projects that will change the face of Baumholder are the new Wetzel townhouses and the consolidation of Smith and Wetzel elementary schools.
"Several housing units in Wetzel will be torn down this spring to make room for new townhouses, and the two elementary schools will be consolidated into one. Wetzel will become one large consolidated elementary school," said McAdoo.
These projects are estimated at about $40 to $50 million. McAdoo punctuated this by saying, "Baumholder is enduring."
As the start date for the townhouses project approaches, more and more military families will be in need of a place to live prompting McAdoo to ask the mayors for their assistance.
"Because we are tearing down some old housing in Wetzel to make room for the townhouses, we will be looking to house people off post. Let us know if you have houses or apartments available," said McAdoo.
The discussion then switched to other future projects.
"Baumholder will start pushing the recycling program on post. Americans have a tendency to throw everything away. We'll start with glass which is 25 percent of the weight of our trash. We will then move to paper, cardboard and aluminum cans, said McAdoo."
Another initiative currently under way on post is the relocation of several facilities and services. "We will be moving some organizations around on post for more efficiency," said McAdoo.
More than 450 local nationals are employed by USAG Baumholder. The garrison is working to better integrate these employees into the day-to-day activities and events of the American population.
"We are moving toward a more liberal entry-to-the-post policy. For example, we have an upcoming Easter egg hunt, and we will be inviting students from the Baumholder kindergartens to join us. Of course we also have our Fourth of July event when we will also be exercising a liberal entry policy so that the local population can participate," said McAdoo.
In reciprocation to that, the city of Baumholder is planning activities for the families of deployed Soldiers.
McAdoo said that Baumholder District Mayor Peter Lang, who was not at the meeting because of another commitment, had expressed interest in supporting families while the Soldiers are gone. "Those who would also like to participate in providing activities or recreational events for the families of deployed Soldiers should work with Lt. Col. Steven Fandrich, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team rear detachment commander, and his team." Fandrich was at the meeting and mentioned that almost all of the unit's Soldiers have deployed to Afghanistan.
Also attending were German Col. Fiepko Koolman, representing the German Artillery School in Idar-Oberstein, and German Lt. Col. Michael Koehler, who represented the Military Training Area in Lager Aulenbach.
The next civic leaders meeting is scheduled for June.