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Press Release
September 07, 2007
Oregon Army National Guard helps build "Field of Dreams" in east Vancouver, Wash.
 
Members of the Oregon Army National Guard are helping to turn a typical neighborhood baseball field into a sports complex an entire community can be proud of – and utilize.

A group of Soldiers from the Oregon National Guard's Innovative Readiness Training program began working on improvements to the Harmony Sports Complex in east Vancouver, Wash., during the last week of August.

The Columbia River Miracle League – a Vancouver league for children and adults with disabilities – hopes to make the sports complex their new home. The construction project is being monitored by inspectors with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure proper accessibility requirements.

By the time the official dedication ceremony kicks off on Sept. 22, organizers hope to have new sidewalks, wheelchair accessible ramps, 12 new parking stalls and a new playing surface on the field, said Shonnie Samwel, project manager for TEAM Construction in Vancouver, Wash.

"This is a wonderful way to give back to the community," Samwel said. "And it has generated a lot of interest throughout the local area."

For the Oregon Guardsmen who are working on the project, the work is fulfilling on both a community and a personal level, said Sgt. Mike Germundson, of the 234 Engineers.

"This is really satisfying," he said. "This is going to give people with less opportunities in life a chance to have some fun," he said.

Germundson, who lives in Portland, Ore., is no stranger to construction projects. He deployed to Iraq with the U.S. Army's 52nd Engineers during the early days of the Iraq War. He worked on construction projects alongside local Iraqis in and around Mosul, Iraq for most of 2003, building block houses and schools. He said projects like the Harmony Sports Complex shows that Soldiers can deploy around the world and do their mission, but can return home and go right back into important civilian jobs.

"We want to do good things for the community," he said.

As a member of the IRT program, Germundson, along with his fellow Soldiers volunteer for construction projects that allow them to gain valuable field experience while helping out their local communities. Germundson's coworkers in Vancouver that day were Pvt. 1st Class Eric Holloway, of the Oregon Army National Guard's 224 Engineers, and Spc. Zac Spencer, of the 234 Engineers. All three have fellow Soldiers who are currently on a one-year deployment in Iraq.

"I think this is wonderful because my little sister is in a wheelchair," said Spencer, who lives in Corvallis, Ore. "Hopefully, I can bring her up here when it's done and I can play baseball with her."

According to project organizers, the construction project is truly a community effort, with about 30 companies donating building materials and equipment.

Several local companies have come through with donations, including Rinker Materials, J.L. Storedahl and Sons, Glacier Northwest, Nutter Construction, BMC West Building Materials, and George Schmid and Sons. Fuel for the heavy equipment was donated by Vancouver Oil and supplemented by the Oregon National Guard, who has also offered up heavy equipment and Soldiers for the labor force.

Samwel said her family has been using the baseball diamond and the newer soccer field at the complex for almost twenty years. She added that families come from as far away as west Vancouver, Camas, and Battle Ground to utilize the facilities.

"This is truly a field of dreams," she said.



Photos:
 
070907-F-1639C-004.JPG: Sgt. Mike Germundson, of the Oregon Army National Guard's 234 Engineers, uses a "stamping machine" to pack down the gravel bed of what will become one of several wheelchair accessible ramps at the Harmony Sports Complex in Vancouver, Wash., Sept. 7, 2007. Germundson, and several other Soldiers from the Innovative Readiness Training Program, are volunteering their time to help complete the construction project at the complex before the official dedication ceremony on Sept. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office).

070907-F-1639C-011.JPG: Spc. Zac Spencer, of the Oregon Army National Guard's 234 Engineers, shovels gravel into the foundation of what will become one of several wheelchair accessible ramps at the Harmony Sports Complex in Vancouver, Wash., Sept. 7, 2007. Spencer, and several other Soldiers from the Innovative Readiness Training Program, are volunteering their time to help complete the construction project at the complex before the official dedication ceremony on Sept. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office).

070907-F-1639C-025.JPG: Pvt. 1st Class Eric Hollows, of the Oregon Army National Guard's 224 Engineers, maneuvers heavy equipment into place to offload gravel into the bottom of what will become one of several wheelchair accessible ramps at the Harmony Sports Complex in Vancouver, Wash., Sept. 7, 2007. Hollows, and several other Soldiers from the Innovative Readiness Training Program, are volunteering their time to help complete the construction project at the complex before the official dedication ceremony on Sept. 22. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy, Oregon National Guard Public Affairs Office).
 
 
Contact Info:
 
Tech. Sgt. Nick Choy
PH: 503-784-9295