The Baltimore Sun

APG endorses quality-of-life push

Aberdeen Proving Ground has joined other military posts across the nation in endorsing an expanded commitment to improving the quality of life for soldiers and their families.

APG Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Pedro Rodriguez signed the document, called the Army Family Covenant, during a ceremony Thursday attended by more than 600 people.

The effects of six years of war and multiple deployments prompted Army officials to create the document, which stresses that "the strength of our soldiers comes from the strength of their families."

In announcing the covenant last month, Pete Geren, secretary of the Army, said that with more than 2 million soldiers, spouses and children, the Army is shouldering a heavy load.

"Today's professional, all-volunteer Army is a family Army," said George Mercer, APG spokesman. "You cannot get soldiers to commit, to re-enlist and to continue their military careers without the support of their families."

APG completed $3.3 million in improvements to base housing this year, everything from replacing windows and doors to installing fences. In recent months, work crews have upgraded the post exchange, where most families shop, and added several new concessions, including a coffee shop. The Army lodge also underwent a $1.5 million renovation.

"A soldier can't do his mission if he feels his family is not being taken care of," Mercer said. "If we don't care for these families, we are not going to have soldiers. If a soldier is worried about his family's house or their food or health care, he can't focus on his mission."

The Army has broadened health care and prescription programs and instituted a post-deployment health reassess- ment that looks at illness, stress and psychological issues, officials said. APG leaders are working with Johns Hopkins Hospital on health projects and with Harford County schools on transitioning new students as well as assisting those transferring to other systems.

The announcement coincided with the base's 90th anniversary celebration last night at Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. The gala featured displays from nearly a century of APG history, a performance of music through the ages played by the U.S. Army Materiel Command Band and a poetry recitation by a base retiree.

State to hold meeting on Route 159 bridge

The State Highway Administration will hold an informational meeting about the Route 159 bridge replacement project from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday at Bakerfield Elementary School cafeteria, 36 Baker St., Aberdeen.

The bridge is scheduled to be replaced next summer. Residents can view the project plans and talk to the SHA project team at their own pace.

The bridge was built in 1925. The project calls for replacing the existing concrete girder. A traffic detour will be set up during construction for the 4,800 vehicles that use the bridge daily.

Information: 800-323-6742.

Maryland Senior Idol contest is Nov. 27

Maryland residents age 60 and older will compete in the third annual Maryland Senior Idol Vocal Competition at 1 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Chesapeake Arts Center, 194 Hammonds Lane, Brooklyn Park, Anne Arundel County.

The competition is hosted by the Harford County Department of Community Services' Office on Aging, with the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks and Baltimore County Department of Aging.

Modeled after the television show American Idol, the competition showcases the vocal talents of Marylanders who compete for prizes.

This year, 17 contestants will perform. Contestants have auditioned and placed tops in a local competition. Other entertainment also will be provided during the afternoon.

Tickets are $5 in advance and $8 at the door. Checks can be made payable to Harford County. Advance tickets can be purchased through the Harford County Office on Aging at 145 N. Hickory Ave., Bel Air, 21014, in person or by mail.

Requests for tickets by mail must be made by Nov. 19.

Information: 410-638-3025.

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