Guard Engineers construct park for Rogue River, Oregon – DVIDS


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ROGUE RIVER, Oregon – Small towns in the U.S. typically have something the community rallies behind. Something to give them an identity – to make them stand out. For the city of Rogue River in Southern Oregon that “thing” is rooster crowing.

Every year since the 1950s, people gather in the summertime for a weekend of fun, boat races, car shows and rooster crowing – from both human and fowl alike. Seriously, look it up. This year, though, the city's park is getting a much needed upgrade, courtesy of the 176th Engineer Company out of Snohomish, Washington.

The park that was once a bare lot of less than one acre in size, has now been turned into an epicenter of heavy equipment, mounds of earth, and trenches for drainage and electricity.

The new Rooster Park is designed to accommodate the annual Rooster Crow Festival held at the end of June. It will soon have a pavilion, a bathroom, a walking path as well as a splash pad for those hot summer days. The park will also have space for vendors to set up their booths in addition to electrical outlets to help with power.

The engineers were chosen to tackle the project through the Department of Defense's Innovative Readiness Training program. This is a unique program that matches military units from various backgrounds – like medical, civil engineering and cyber-security – with training opportunities in the Homeland which provide key services for American communities.

Sgt. Tanya Russell, a heavy equipment operator, said that only recently has the 176th been able to undergo projects in the community like this.

Most of their annual training projects consisted of building roads and shoot houses at Yakima Training Center near Yakima, WA or building a cookie-cutter type school in rural Thailand as part of exercise Cobra Gold. Mostly doing the same thing year after year.

“To be able to do something that is great training for our entire crew and being able to help the community and give the people something to be excited about is neat,” Russell said. “This is hands down the best annual training that I have ever done.”

The project has not been met without several hindrances, though. City administrator Mark Reagles said there have been delays due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Funding delays and difficulties in the supply chain forced the engineers and the city to sit down and talk through options and courses of action to keep the project moving forward.

“But in meeting with the 176th leadership we were able to deal with stuff that is out of our control,” Reagles said. “[The city] is frustrated. We want them to be able to accomplish everything they wanted to, but we can't. Because we can't control it.”

By the time the 176th leaves from this project the key components will be completed. “The restrooms, the splash pad, the pavilion pad and part of the walking path will be done,” Reagles said. The rest of the project will be picked up by the city.

But despite these obstacles, the 176th is getting the training they set out to get, and then some. Soldiers are learning new techniques in their craft, and they're getting cross-training from other specialties. Some soldiers brought their civilian construction expertise to the park project.

“We have Sgt. William Baty who has worked with concrete for years and we may be lost without him,” said Russell. “He's just so knowledgeable and helping keep the project moving along.”

For Staff Sgt. Alex Stockner, a land surveyor, this project is an opportunity to come back home.

“I think it's super enjoyable. It's a beautiful area. I grew up in Oregon, I mean, my dog's name is 'Rogue,'” Stockner said. “I've learned in the last ten and a half years of Army service that I enjoy serving. It gives you a greater purpose. And this is a prime example of that.”

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