LEESVILLE, La.--Communities and organizations surrounding Fort Polk have organized letter-signing events to make it as easy as possible for area residents to voice their concerns and help stop a troop reduction at the base.
The events are an effort to gather as many comments as possible in the week leading up to the Aug. 25 deadline for commenting on the Department of the Army's proposal to cut troops at Fort Polk. The following communities will be hosting events:
The City of Lake Charles and the Mayor's Armed Forces Commission will be hosting an event from 8 a.m. to noon this Saturday, Aug. 16 at the Lake Charles Civic Center located at 900 Lakeshore Drive, Lake Charles. The Know Your Numbers Free Community Health Screening conducted by the nonprofit group Dare to be Healthy will be going on in the civic center at the same time.
The commission will have a table set up on the first floor, near the entrance to the exhibition hall where anyone who wishes to can a sign a letter in support of maintaining Fort Polk's current troop strength. The commission will also take on the responsibility of ensuring that those letters are mailed to the appropriate address within the specified time frame.
The Central LA Chamber of Commerce is hosting a community-wide Fort Polk Letter-signing Day on Tuesday, Aug. 19, with promotions from media partners including KALB-TV, NALB-TV, KLAX-TV, Cenla Broadcasting, JWBP Broadcasting and Opus Broadcasting.
The letter-signing effort is being supported by the Cities of Alexandria and Pineville, the England Authority, Central LA Economic Development Alliance and North Rapides Business and Industry Alliance.
Letter signing stations will be set up throughout Alexandria, Pineville and Rapides Parish at most local grocery stores and at the following businesses:
Red River Bank
Capital One Bank
Southern Heritage Bank
H & H Appliances
Alexandria City Hall
Pineville City Hall
Central LA Chamber of Commerce
AEX - Alexandria International Airport
Members of the Central LA Chamber Military Affairs Committee and the Chamber's Red Coat Ambassadors will help man stations and pick up letters for mailing.
If your business would like to host a letter signing station, please contact the Central LA Chamber at 318-442-6671. A finalized list of letter signing stations will be posted on the Chamber website and will be published in The Town Talk on Monday.
The City of DeRidder will staff the Amerisafe Pavilion from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 20. The pavilion is located on Washington Street in downtown DeRidder. Residents can drop by or simply drive through to sign letters. There will be signs and balloons pointing the way, and KVVP radio personality Rick Barnickel will be broadcasting live in the downtown during these times.
DeRidder residents can also drop off their signed letters at DeRidder City Hall or the Beauregard Chamber of Commerce at any time during regular business hours until Aug. 25.
The City of Leesville, the Mayor's Women's Commission and the Vernon Parish Police Jury will host a letter signing event from 10 a.m. 2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22nd, in the parking lot of First United Pentecostal Church of Leesville, located at 101 Nolan Trace in Leesville and then again from 4-6 p.m.
The church parking lot offers a convenient drive-in, drive-out location. Letter signers won't even have to exit their vehicles.
Local radio personality Rick Barnickel with KVVPwill broadcast live from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Boomer with KJAEwill broadcast the 4-6 p.m. event.
The Vernon Parish Tourism Commission will host a table in the downtown Leesville area from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Aug 22, while the Vernon Parish Chamber of Commerce will host two tables at Market Basket from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Mayor's Youth Council and Jobs for America's Graduates will have a table set up at Walmart from 4-6 p.m. on Aug. 22 to gather signatures.
"We are so very grateful for all of our partners who are stepping up to make sure the Army knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that Fort Polk is not the place to cut troops," said Fort Polk Progress Chairman Michael Reese concerning these efforts.
The U.S. Army Environmental Command had received approximately 14,500 comments, as of Aug. 12. Of those, approximately 5,000 (about 35 percent) came from communities in support of Fort Polk. This total includes individual letters and comments received via the website.
The comments continue to express concern about Army/community relations, socioeconomic impacts, impact to veterans services, military value of the installation, and impacts to training and national security.
The online petition, as of Aug. 13, had 3,403 signatures.
To arrange for media coverage of any of the events, please contact Tammy Sharp at 337-378-9329.
Fort Polk Progress is a regional community organization that takes a proactive stance toward Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) by maintaining relationships and partnering with decision makers in Congress, at the Pentagon and at the state level, ensuring that the most up to date information concerning Fort Polk and the surrounding communities is used in decisions concerning the base. In addition, Fort Polk Progress actively markets the base to the military as the most cost effective place to provide soldiers with the best training possible and strives to help ensure the best possible quality of life for soldiers, civilians and their families. Most recently, Fort Polk Progress has spear-headed an Education Initiative, which acknowledges exceptional educational achievements in the region and pursues continued excellence in education for military families throughout the region.
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