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PHOTO CAPTION:  (From the left) Cody Child Development Center Director Sunny Smith, 5-year-old Cody CDC student Olivia Cobb, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter, 3-year-old Cody CDC student Aaron Evans, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, JBM-HH Child, Youth and School Services Coordinator Dawn C. Thompson, 4-year-old Cody CDC student Hosanna Gebertsadik, and School Age Services Director Yvonne Moore cut the ribbon to dedicate the new Cody CDC playground Oct. 18, 2013.  Photo Credit: Rachel Larue

October 29, 2013
By Julia LeDoux, Pentagram Staff Writer

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Bubbles mixed with the sounds of delighted children at play Oct. 18 as Joint Base Myer Henderson Hall's Cody Child Development Center held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new playgrounds.

Joint Base Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter, who hosted the event, said the journey to the new playgrounds began in January of this year.

"Let me take you back for a moment to how this all began," she continued. "Construction on the Cody facility was first completed in July of 2008, the largest in the Department of Defense. As you know, since 2008 every time it rained, storm water would run down the hill and pool on our playground, creating a lot of puddles and mud. This is why your children were often covered in mud when you picked them up at the end of the day. As an Army mom, I can appreciate that frustration."

Parents in the audience smiled and some nodded their heads in agreement.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh learned of the installation's concerns about the safety, poor drainage and design challenges of the playground when he visited the joint base in January, continued Sumpter.

"As a proactive, co-advocate for the safety and well-being of military children, Secretary McHugh provided the leadership and support to repair the Cody playground," she said. "He is not here today, but I personally thank the Secretary for his leadership and genuine concern."

The design and construction of the playground was undertaken by Centennial Contractors Enterprises and completed at a cost of approximately $1.9 million of non-appropriated funds.

The finished playgrounds are separated by fully fenced-in play areas containing age appropriate equipment such as swings and slides.

"Of all the new additions, I am most pleased with the 'poured in place' safety surface under all the play equipment that provides our children added protection during falls," noted Sumpter.

New synthetic grass surfacing is a low-maintenance and beautiful alternative to the real thing, she continued. The playgrounds also feature shade structures, winding tricycle and bike paths and a height-adjustable basketball system for teens.

"And most importantly, the renovation provided us with a fully integrated, underground drainage system to address the issue of rain water runoff," Sumpter said.

While thanking everyone who had a hand or took part in the renovation project that made the playgrounds a reality, Sumpter particularly lauded the efforts of Child, Youth and School Services Coordinator Dawn Thompson; Blane Butler, chief of the non-appropriated support management division; and Dave Metzger, contract officer's representative for the Directorate of Public Works.

"It's going to be a fabulous place for our kids," said Thompson. "They deserve the best. It was a beautiful state-of-the-art facility where the outside didn't match the inside. Now it does."

Sumpter also thanked the team from Centennial Contractors Enterprises, especially Charlie Beasman, Chris Pilarick and Steve Thomas.

"They delivered the playground on time, as promised," said Sumpter, who added that "this ribbon-cutting ceremony provides an opportunity to thank everyone in this most important project, for some of our most important customers. I've said this many times over the last year, 'I can think of no work more important than providing a safe and healthy environment for our children."

In his remarks, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and the Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan likened the celebration to a fall harvest where the rewards are reaped due to the year-long efforts of everyone who made the new playgrounds a reality. He singled out for particular thanks the U.S. Army Installation Management Command; the joint base; the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Cody Child Development Center; the Directorate of Public Works and Centennial Contractors Enterprises.

"As I glance over at the children, I know they are ready to get over to the play area right now because play is the work and the most important occupation of childhood," the major general said. "Playing outdoors has always been a form of exercise that promoted well-being and physical development and it also helps children learn about people and how to socialize."

Buchanan said that playing helps children learn to listen, talk with their classmates and learn how to follow rules.

"Children at play learn how to pay attention and how to stick to a job, by practicing and learning new skills," he continued. "Learning how to play correctly as a child will enable them to work well as they grow older to work with a team, learn how to effectively lead and how to accomplish a specific task."

The new playground equipment will also allow children to explore and have fun while developing muscle strength, coordination, motor skills and self-confidence.

"The new playground design ensures there is proper drainage so even when it rains the playground can still be used. The rubberized playground surfaces will enable children to enjoy the outdoor play area year-round."

The U. S. Army Band Swamp Romp performed a pre-ceremonial parade and led children on a "bubbles parade" as they blew bubbles following the ceremony. Deputy Joint Base Chaplain (Maj.) Jerald P. Jacobs provided the invocation.

The celebration also included hayrides, face painting and other activities for the children.