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Posted 3/6/2014

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By Erica Skolte

Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, presented the AbilityOne Award to Jacksonville District Commander Col. Alan Dodd during the recent Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) Small Business Conference in Kansas City, Mo.

In a letter to Dodd, E. Ballard, Executive Director and CEO of the AbilityOne Program said, “I appreciate your dedication and commitment to identifying opportunities for AbilityOne providers. Your exemplary leadership led the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District to award over $2.9 million in contracts to AbilityOne nonprofit agencies.” In fact, Jacksonville District ranked second among all Corps districts in the AbilityOne/One Source category for dollars awarded.

“The AbilityOne vision is to enable all people who are blind or living with significant disabilities to achieve their maximum employment potential, especially our wounded warriors,” said Ballard. “These men and women face many challenges as they transition back into civilian life, and are meeting extraordinary obstacles, including physical injuries as well as invisible ones, like post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury. As a nation, we cannot leave these veterans behind. Our wounded warriors have earned and deserve the right to continue service to their country through programs like AbilityOne.”

“As a direct result of your commitment to the Small Business Program, we had another exceptional year,” said Jackie Robinson-Burnette, chief of Small Business Programs for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

One of the long-standing AbilityOne contracts is for the operation of the Jacksonville District mailroom, run by Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind. Mailroom team members are blind or visually impaired and use computers to perform their jobs.

“We have been beneficial to the Corps - we keep things running smoothly and have a good record in handling mail. The fact that we have continued to be awarded contracts for more than 13 years means that the Corps is happy with our work,” said Keith Yount, mailroom supervisor.

AbilityOne contracts have also benefitted the south Florida area. “Contract awards to the AbilityOne program increases job opportunities for individuals who are blind or have other severe disabilities, including our service-disabled veterans who transition to the AbilityOne program,” said Duane Kelley, chief of the maintenance and contract quality assurance section for the South Florida Operations Office and Contracting Officer Representative (COR).

The South Florida Operations Office’s AbilityOne contractor, Gulfstream Goodwill, is responsible for and provides management, planning, supervision, labor, equipment and maintenance, materials and supplies as required for the mowing and janitorial services for all government-owned facilities in the South Florida Operations Office geographical area of responsibility. Structures and facilities are located throughout central and southern Florida, from Cape Canaveral in the north to the Everglades in the south, and from the Atlantic coast in the east to the Gulf of Mexico in the west.

The contractor provides bulk trash removal, janitorial services, and general cleaning services of public use areas and government facilities. The contractor also mows, trims, edges and applies herbicides to grassed and landscaped areas. These locations include recreation areas, locks and dams, levee systems, office areas, water control structures and operations areas. Two distinctly different types of mowing are used – rough or “improved mowing” and the use of “finish mowing” equipment to achieve an appearance similar to that of a residential lawn. The second type is “levee mowing,” which is routinely done on uneven ground surfaces and requires a tractor and brush mower equipment. This job includes about 150 miles of levee around Herbert Hoover Dike, which surrounds Lake Okeechobee.

“We are happy to be recognized for our efforts in awarding contracts in the AbilityOne program,” said Beth Myers, deputy for Small Business Programs in Jacksonville District. “It’s great to be able to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities and these contractors do much-needed work for the Corps.”

AbilityOne Jacksonville District SAME small business Society of American Military Engineers U.S. Army Corps of Engineers USACE