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Town participation in Army Community Covenant advances


PEPPERELL — Fresh from an Army Community Covenant meeting at Fort Devens July 1, Veterans Agent Joseph Mazzola brought particulars of the initiative before selectmen as the town considers signing on.

The covenant, initiated by Lt. Col. Steven Nott, former U.S. Army Garrison Fort Devens commander, was signed last year by the towns of Ayer, Harvard, Lancaster, Shirley and Devens residents in a large ceremony on Rogers Field in Devens. At least three generals, numerous other high- ranking military officers, community leaders and more than 2,000 area residents attended.

Groton recently signed the covenant. Mazzola is spearheading the effort for Pepperell and Townsend, which could be the seventh and eighth signatories.

The covenant’s purpose is to expand military support of active-duty military members to their families within the signatory communities.

That support could include, for example, identification badges similar to Gold Star mothers for military family members to use in communities around Devens in acquiring discount products or other material support, Mazzola said.

Support can also include the Adopt-a-Unit Program or connectivity with the Army Emergency Relief Program. Participating business establishments could have covenant stickers on their doors.

An Army Community Covenant Board is being set up at the garrison at Fort Devens, composed of community leaders from each town that signs on. Each has a single vote. Fort Devens’ commander has the tie-breaking vote as vice chairman in case of stalemates in a particular initiative.

“Devens supports you while you support them,” Mazzola said. “It’s mostly for people being deployed. They have 3,000 people go through each week.”

“There is a Web site also,” he added. “I think it’s a great program. I think we should form a (local) committee.”

“Of course I’ll help,” Chairman joseph Sergi said. “Generally what is a gift (businesses can offer)?”

“Whatever they can give,” Mazzola said.

“I’d love to reach out for like the three guys Saturday (at the July 4 fireworks) who fired the howitzers with Col. Nott and who are going to Iraq,” Sergi said. “This would be good to have.”

Steven Themelis, who has volunteered to represent Pepperell on the covenant board, said he has spoken with VFW Quartermaster Tony Saboliauskas about becoming a community liaison while he works with businesses. He will be talking with Groton about its effort.

“Perhaps we could combine with Townsend in the future,” Themelis said.

“It’s good to find out how big these committees are and good to have liaisons,” Selectman Patrick McNabb said.

The next community covenant meeting is scheduled for Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. at Fort Devens.