Fort Meade: Covenant signing presents a unified voice
Fort Meade Public Affairs, The Capital Gazette
A number of community leaders gathered together Nov. 7 for the signing of the Fort Meade Community Covenant.
The covenant is the guiding document for signatories who “commit in the spirit of collaboration to build relationships, identify and combine resources, and address critical needs,” according to the document.
The signing was held at the new access control point at Mapes Road and Route 175.
Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, representing the 2nd Congressional District, and Rep. John Sarbanes, representing the 3rd Congressional District, addressed the crowd and signed the covenant along with several Maryland state delegates and county elected officials.
“Noticeably absent from today’s ceremony is our friend and strong supporter of Fort Meade, Congressman Elijah Cummings,” Garrison Commander Col. Erich C. Spragg said during his remarks. “Our prayers and thoughts remain with his family, and his leadership will be sorely missed.”
Once during every garrison commander’s tour on the post, the Fort Meade Community Covenant signing is held. The event brings together the community outside the fence line that supports Fort Meade.
“Inside the fence line of Fort Meade, our community is fairly obvious,” said Sherry Kuiper, Fort Meade’s community relations chief, and manager of the installation’s involvement in the Community Covenant. “It’s the service members, the families, the veterans and the civilian workers who keep the machine running.
“What may be less obvious is that our community at Fort Meade expands beyond that fence line,” she said. “Our community is Odenton, Columbia, Laurel, Severna Park, Annapolis, and Anne Arundel County, Howard County, Carroll County. I could go on. We know that all 56,000 of us who work here do not live on the installation with our families.”
As the largest single employer in the state of Maryland with an economic impact of more than $21 billion, Fort Meade community members have a huge impact on the economy of Maryland.
“So there is an inherent need to collaborate for the good of our greater Fort Meade community,” Kuiper said.
In addition to elected officials, chambers of commerce, community organization and education leaders also took part in the event.
“Decisions made by federal, state and local elected officials as well as businesses, have a rippling effect on Fort Meade,” Spragg said. “Today, we gather to recognize that partnership and the undeniable fact that we are one community and we need each other.”
Tim O’Ferrall, current chairman of the Community Covenant Council, spoke about the significance of the Covenant Committee and Fort Meade’s role statewide and nationally.
“This Covenant Committee is a national model for cooperative community leadership,” O’Ferrall said. “The importance of our working together cannot be understated.
“Fort Meade is our region’s largest economic driver, the state of Maryland’s largest employer, the U.S. Army’s second-largest installation by population and our nation’s front line for the war in cyberspace.
“Our community has the opportunity to play a significant role to impact positively these factors, and the responsibility to support those who serve and defend us.
Specific pledges in the covenant include:
- To present a unified voice for the Fort Meade community.
- To increase the region’s awareness and understanding of Fort Meade, its goals and objectives.
- To connect the Fort Meade community on and off the post with beneficial partnerships and opportunities.
- To serve as the garrison commander’s resource for relevant information related to the surrounding region.
- To assist the garrison in supporting the mission of the agencies and organizations.
“Our long and mutually supportive relationship with the off-the-installation community directly gets after two of our garrison commander’s priorities — readiness and quality of life,” said Chad Jones, Fort Meade public affairs officer.
While signing the document is mostly ceremonial, Jones said it represents the earnest commitment of each member to serve the best interests of Fort Meade and the greater community beyond the installation.