By Nancy RasmussenMay 8, 2008
Fort Rucker's Army Family enjoys positive, symbiotic relationships with its neighboring communities, and the partnership between Ozark and the 1st Battalion 14th Aviation Regiment exemplifies how the spirit of mutual cooperation promotes Army Values. Thanks to the willingness of the unit's Soldiers to step up to the plate, Ozark officials, including Mayor Bob Bunting, will conduct opening ceremonies at a new ball park this summer.
On April 11 and May 1 members of the 1st Bn. 14th Avn. Regt. assisted in the assembly of aluminum bleachers at Ozark's Police Memorial Park located just outside the Ozark Gate. The park is a new women's softball complex in the making, located on the grounds of what used to be East Gate Junior High School.
The unit's Executive Officer Maj. Scott Lenzmeier coordinated the project with the city of Ozark. "About two months ago Mayor Bunting contacted us for some assistance in building bleachers. Since we had a little lead time, we formulated a plan and a came up with a good date. The city of Ozark arranged to have the material delivered the day prior to construction," Lenzmeier said.
"During these two days we assisted City Parks and Recreation personnel as well as a couple other volunteers from the city of Ozark in dividing hardware, relocating assembly materials, and actually constructing new bleachers for this softball complex," he said. The park features four softball fields, each housing two sets of bleachers.
Lenzmeier said his team constructed six sets on April 11 and finished the last two on May 1. He said, "We also added some finishing touches Thursday, like end caps for the raw cut sheets of aluminum, framework for railings and chain-link safety fences for the rear of the bleachers."
The Battalion Leadership is fully invested with the civic leadership of Ozark. Lindsay said, "As a result of the successful establishment of personal relationships, the unit has been able to foster a climate of mutual understanding and deep respect between our partnership city and Fort Rucker."
The unit's commitment to community is reflected in a 2007 award submission narrative: The battalion enjoys a special bond with the city due to the close proximity of the unit's training areas to the city of Ozark. On any given day, more than 100 of the battalion's aircraft transit in, around and over the city enroute to four stage fields as well as Molinelli Aerial Gunnery Range Complex located to the northwest of the city.
With all that activity overhead, 21 hours a day, sometimes six days a week, it is especially critical to maintain a positive relationship and an ongoing dialogue with local government officials as well as civic leaders.
Reflecting on the battalion's experience at the new ball fields, Lenzmeier said, "Once complete, this complex should be pretty nice, with little scoring buildings behind each home plate, dugout areas, and concrete-raised bleacher areas on either side of the field."
Ozark City Clerk Billy Blackwell said, "The city didn't have sufficient funding for this project, so after contracting for materials and deliveries we depended on City forces and others to complete various projects. The 1/14th Soldiers were invaluable to the park's progress.
Their willingness to help was a generous contribution to the community and the City appreciates them so much. According to Ozark Leisure Services Director Mickey Snell, the ball fields will officially open June 26 with the Dixie Ponytails sub-district tournament featuring 11- and 12-year-old girls.