North & East Texas conference attendees were given a glimpse into two hometown treasures both of which inspire community pride and connect Bell County to destinations across the globe.
“We call Fort Hood ‘The Great Place,’ ” said Major General William Grimsley. Fort Hood is located adjacent to Killeen, the site of the North & East Texas County Judges and Commissioners Association 2010 Annual Conference conducted May 16-19. In fact, the conference logo included the phrase “HOME of OUR HEROES.”
“We are extraordinarily well supported and loved,” Grimsley told 100-plus county judges and commissioners during the Opening General Session.
Fort Hood is the largest active duty armored post in the United States Armed Services, covering a total of 340-square miles and supporting multiple units, a corps headquarters, and a robust mobilization mission. The post is home to the 1st Cavalry Division and the 4th Infantry Division, and supports some 50,000 soldiers, 70 percent of whom live off post.
“We are interconnected with the community in a way that is quite unique and quite special,” Grimsley said. Soldiers and their families attend Bell County schools, are members of area churches, and participate in neighborhood events.
“We really enjoy working with the leadership there and sharing Fort Hood with Coryell County,” said Bell County Commissioner John Fisher.
Along with the relational impact, Fort Hood, the largest single-site employer in the State of Texas, has an economic impact of some $11 billion, Grimsley said.
Fort Hood is affiliated with the second hometown treasure, Central Texas College (CTC), located in Killeen; the college has a satellite campus located on Fort Hood.
CTC was founded in 1965 to serve the residents of Central Texas. The two-year, open admissions public institution was expanded to serve military students worldwide in the early 1970s and now logs more than 180,000 worldwide enrollments per year.
Approximately 7,900 students per semester are on the CTC campus, taking part in more than 60 programs of study in state-of-the-art facilities. CTC has combined forces with Texas A&M University-Central Texas to establish a public four-year degree opportunity.
The college has some 140 campuses worldwide including two installations in Iraq and five in Afghanistan. Instructors are also placed on naval ships.
Finally, CTC has more than 68,900 distance learning enrollments offering 21 degrees and 22 certificates, fully online.
“CTC makes it possible for members of the military to pursue their higher education goals no matter where they are located,” said Bell County Judge Jon Burrows.
“CTC is in a position to deliver educational opportunities to our heroes around the world, and we are so proud of them,” echoed Fisher.
Along with its academic component, CTC is home to the Mayborn Planetarium and Space Theater, which opened to the general public in August 2003. Since then, thousands have enjoyed planetarium star displays, laser light shows and large-format films. In fact, conference attendees were treated to an evening at the Planetarium, courtesy of BBVA Compass Bank/Central Texas College. The group enjoyed a lesson in constellations, an eye-popping laser light show, and a feature film on astronauts.
“Bell County has many things to be proud of,” Burrows said, “and Central Texas College is at the top of the list.”