OXFORD — The Anniston Army Depot wants to help the city of Jacksonville move some dirt.
Through a partnership signed on Thursday, the depot will take dirt off the hands of the city. In turn, that should reduce costs for the city as it digs and expands its landfill.
The partnership was just one of five agreements the depot signed with area stakeholders on Thursday to meet mutual needs. The agreements were the culmination of months of talks between the depot and the stakeholders. The hope is to improve efficiency and reduce the cost of operations for the depot and all agencies and cities involved.
The agreements were signed in the Oxford Civic Center as part of the Army Community Partnership Program, created to facilitate mutually beneficial plans between the military and their communities. Besides the depot, representatives from Jacksonville State University, Gadsden State Community College, the city of Jacksonville, the Anniston Water Works and Sewer Board and the Oxford Water Works and Sewer Board each signed agreements.
“This is a program initiated by the Army to see how we can expand partnerships into communities that might prove to be a mutual benefit to the facility and the community,” said Col. Joel Warhurst, commander of the depot. “Until now we’ve mainly focused on our commercial partners, but now we’re expanding those horizons with the community.”
The depot has about 2,700 workers and 680 contractors who repair and maintain armored vehicles and small arms for the Army.
For the Jacksonville agreement, the depot will take dirt from the city landfill to use for munitions training.
“Jacksonville wants to get rid of the dirt and the depot needs the dirt,” said John Broughton, assistant program manager with SIA Solutions, a consulting firm that helped facilitate the partnership program between the depot and stakeholders. “The depot will be able to offset some of its costs on dirt ... Jacksonville won’t have to pay to transport the dirt.”
For Gadsden State and JSU, the depot recommitted to exposing more students to hands-on work experience.
“It’s an effort to expose students to a business ... so they understand what a typical workday looks like at an installation,” Warhurst said.
Martha Lavender, president of Gadsden State, said the community college, which has the Ayers Campus in Anniston, has long worked with the depot and that she is glad the partnership will continue to grow.
“That hands-on experience is absolutely critical to being successful in the work environment for our students,” Lavender said.
Lavender said she hopes Gadsden State can get students into the depot as early as spring.
The agreement with Oxford Water Works makes it the depot’s emergency water backup. The partnership helps the depot meet a new federal requirement that it have 14-day source of water and sewer service for emergencies. Anniston Water Works is currently the depot’s main source of water.
The Anniston Water Works agreed to help the depot with any additional system maintenance and monitoring services it might need in an emergency.
“We’re there to help the depot any time they need help,” said Ed Turner, general manager for Anniston Water Works. “They are one of our largest customers.”