ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - A ceremonial first lease signing and plaque dedication ceremony at Picerne Military Housing's Neighborhood Office commemorated the first official tenants of Bayside Village community housing Feb. 7.

Sgt. Stacey Swayze, of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, and husband Cadet Wesley Swayze, with the University of Maryland Reserve Officer Training Corps program, signed the lease in the presence of APG leaders, Harford County Executive David
Craig, Aberdeen Mayor Michael Bennett, and Picerne officials. The early morning event identified the Swayzes as APG's first military Family scheduled to move into the new homes.

Construction on all of Bayside's 210 new homes will be completed by December.

The program opened with remarks from APG Garrison Commander Col. Orlando Ortiz, Installation and RDECOM Commander Maj. Gen. Nick Justice and Michael Steiner, executive vice president for Picerne Military Housing.

Ortiz explained the relationship between the installation and the housing company, noting that Picerne was selected under the Residential Communities Initiative as APG'S partner in May 2008, at which time they accepted responsibility for the day-today management and development of
Family housing at APG for the next 50 years.

He called Picerne a great partner which has provided quality, affordable housing and services to military Families.

"It is important that we cherish and take care of those who serve our country very well," Ortiz said. "We are a great nation because people have sacrificed. They have put forward great effort to support our national cause." He noted Harford County's support of a critical bond issue restored the full financial funding for the project.

"Without this support from Harford County, we would have had to reduce the scope of the project," he said. "The county shares our vision of providing the best support, the best housing, to our military Families."

Justice, who is preparing to retire, said seeing this project through completion was at the top of his "bucket list" of projects to complete at APG.

"I want to lock up this project and this installation into the path we've set it on," Justice said.

Calling the APG project "the jewel" of the six installations Picerne supports, Steiner said he was happy to report that the new homes project is ahead of schedule, and under budget. He credited Justice and Ortiz, along with support from Harford County, for the project's success, and added that the new homes are just the start of the plan to improve military homes on the installation. Picerne is also in the process of renovating historic homes and multi-family units.