Engineers begin work on Greene County recreation site

By Spec. Stephanie Willer
Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Staff Writer

Spec. Thomas Turner, uses his D7 Dozer to push the earth to help lay down the footprints to the future access road. (Photo by Spec. Stephanie Willer)
STANARDSVILLE, Va. - Engineers from the Virginia National Guard are spending their two-week annual training period this summer creating a new recreation site for the residents of Greene County, Va. When their work is done, young soccer players in Greene County will have new soccer fields to play on this summer.

The engineers setup base camp at the William Monroe High School, and school officials were there to greet them upon arrival. According to First Lieut. Tag Greason, officer-in-charge of Phase I of Virginians for Virginia IV, Operation Commonwealth Castle, said the first night they were one site, the Field Mobile Kitchen (FMK) had not arrived on time for dinner. Carol Haas, the high schools, Director of Food Service, whose husband was an instrumental part in this project's inception, opened up the school kitchen so they were able to cook meals for the soldiers. "You couldn't ask for more cooperation then that! ” said Greason. “Not to mention, the county officials have helped in every way possible to get this project going and to keep it running smoothly. The attitude of the community and county has been great. They have been extremely accommodating.”

A year prior, Carol’s husband Scott Haas, an employee of the Standardsville Sheriff's office was talking to one of his friends, who was with the 229th Engineers. "I was talking with him on the phone and kiddingly said, 'Why don't you come down here and help us out with this recreational site we have been trying to get off the ground for years? He replied, Maybe we can?’ After several phone calls and some paperwork pushing, here we are,” Haas added that this has been a godsend for them. "They are taking care of everything."

The week prior to the unit's arrival, the county had most of the timber removed from the site so the engineers could begin by putting the roads in place and reshaping the earth. The county also agreed to supply fuel for the military equipment that would be working the soil.

Greason said their objective is to clear the area, which also includes leveling off some hilltops that will be future soccer fields. This will ensure that when the next unit arrives they will be able to begin laying down the material for the road and parking lot. They will also be making sure that the drainage and run-offs have been properly setup.

Corp. Lester Johnson operates an excavator to relocate a large tree stump that is blocking their work (Photo by Spec. Stephanie Willer)
Greason, who graduated from United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in engineering, was optimistic that Phase I would be finished on schedule. “We were concerned about the weather but if today is any example of what we can expect, I don't really see a problem.”
Greason explained, however, that when you are working with earth, you do need a mix of rain and sun so that the site can be easily excavated and worked. “In some cases, if you do not have rain for a long period of time, water would need to be brought in to keep down the dust and moisten the clay dirt. On the other hand, if you have too much rain, the equipment would get bogged down and could put a temporary halt to the project.” But we really don't anticipate any delays.

Greason enthusiastically said, "I am so pleased with how this project is going," adding, "It's not that I expected anything different. I expected the county to assist and be cooperative and friendly, but I didn't expect them to reach out so much as they have. It's a good feeling to know that we are helping … and it shows, the county is excited about having us here." Greason explained, "There's a big trust factor. They are letting us do our job."

This small community, tucked into the foot hills of the Blue Ridge mountains, couldn't be more tickled about the presence of the Virginia National Guard and what the Guard's time here will mean to their community.

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