ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – More than 60 local and post leaders gathered for the final quarterly community leader’s luncheon of 2016, hosted by APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce T. Crawford, at Top of the Bay, Dec. 12.
Larry Muzzelo, deputy to the commanding general for the Communications-Electronics Command, or CECOM, welcomed attendees,.
“[These meetings] are really to bring a stronger rapport between APG leadership and the local community,” he said. “We want to create a forum where we can discuss and resolve issues of mutual interest.”
After remarks from Garrison Commander Col. James E. Davis, Joppatowne High School teacher Erica Kelly spoke about the school’s Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness program.
As co-coordinator of the program, Kelly highlighted the ongoing partnership between APG and Joppatowne High School. That partnership includes mentorships, guest speakers and on-post opportunities for program students in the Criminal Justice, Homeland Security Sciences, and the Geographic Information Systems pathways. Teachers and students from each pathway shared their experience within the program and expressed their hopes for its future.
White added that the partnership with APG has been beneficial to the students and that APG professionals are role models for the students in the program.
“Our students look up to you,” she said.
Continuing partnerships, open communication
Crawford stressed the importance of continuing the new and existing partnerships and open communication between APG and the local community that the quarterly luncheons have produced.
“There is opportunity here on this installation to connect the community to the very best in the world at what they do,” he said.
He added that he believes community leaders will benefit from the partnership by receiving information “upfront” about the happenings on APG, and the installation will benefit from having an “informed group of leaders out in the community.”
“I think these are very powerful sessions, and let’s make sure that while we’re sitting in this room we’re planning the next one.”
APG Centers of Excellence
During a previous luncheon, community leaders expressed interest in learning more about the six “centers of excellence” at APG. As a result, representatives from the Research and Development; Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance, or C4ISR; Public Health Sciences; Test and Evaluation, Chemical and Biological; and Personnel Security Investigation, or PSI, centers of excellence briefed their main missions and shared recent professional and community-based achievements.
Jyuji D. Hewitt, the executive deputy to the commanding general for the Research, Development and Engineering Command, or RDECOM, explained the overall purpose of the centers of excellence.
“The center of excellence is all about putting technology in the hands of our warfighters,” he said. “We are working really hard to unburden and empower the warfighter.”
Hewitt also pointed out that many APG professionals working for the Army live in local neighborhoods and volunteer in the school systems to ensure that the area has a strong STEM curriculum. He said the success of the surrounding communities is important to them, because they are a part of it. He said they have a “very vested interest.”
RDECOM not only hosts STEM nights, but has summer programs and internships that are aimed at introducing local students to the STEM field.
“This is what it’s all about in respect to STEM. It’s introducing it, lighting the fire and the passion and starting it from… a young age,” he said.
Representatives from Harford and Cecil counties briefed listeners on their economic growth in the past year and things in the works for the future.
Karen Holt, director of the Harford County Office of Economic Development, said that its primary theme is to “retain, grow and attract.” She said that while defense represents about 50 percent of their economic sector, they hope to diversify and attract new opportunities and industries to the area.
Susan O’Neill, the economic development manager of Cecil County informed attendees that the companies, Lidl US and Transtek are expanding into the county and will create a combined total of 180 jobs. O’Neill also touched on the natural gas franchise agreement that was signed between Cecil County and the town of North East.
Garrison Public Affairs Specialist and Lead APG Centennial Planner Heather Roelker spoke about upcoming events included in the APG year-long centennial celebration in 2017, such as the Centennial Kick-off Social set for Jan. 31. Roelker urged attendees to contact her if they would like to partner with the installation for upcoming events. For more information about the centennial, go to www.apgnews.com, or www.APG100.org.
Holt, who has attended all four of the 2016 luncheons, said they were a great outlet for planning and networking between APG and the outside communities.
“It certainly draws focus for coordination inside and outside the gate,” she said. “I think there’s a great planning opportunity, where I feel like everyone is having input… I think the turnout demonstrates its success.”
The next Community Leaders Luncheon is planned for Spring 2017.
Story by Lauren Finnegan, APG News