The U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation (ODC) in Latvia plans and executes U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement (CE) Program. The CE Program provides funding and expertise to execute a wide array of projects, to include the reconstruction and renovation of public facilities, such as orphanages, senior citizen centers, fire stations, ambulance dispatch centers, and emergency medical centers.
In 2013, the U.S. European Command’s CE Program funded 52 projects in 17 different countries with a total value of $11.1M.These projects included kindergarten and fire station renovations in Moldova, construction of an amputee care coordination center in Estonia, construction of daycare center for children with disabilities in Serbia, and other similar projects.
In 2009, ODC Latvia in cooperation with the State Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) began planning reconstruction projects at SFRS’s fire stations throughout Latvia. Ten projects (in Madona, Limbaži, Valka, Strenči, Gulbene, Ķeipene, Līvāni, Aizkraukle, Liepāja and Ventspils) that were begun in 2009-2010 have now been completed, while several more fire station renovation projects are waiting to be approved and funded.
In addition to its work with the Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service, ODC Latvia is coordinating several reconstruction projects with the State Emergency Medical Service (SEMS). In 2010, SEMS nominated three renovation projects, including two dispatch centers in Riga, and one dispatch center in Kuldīga. The work has been finished at Kuldīga Hospital, where U.S. EUCOM and the U.S. Embassy in Latvia, in cooperation with the SEMS and Kuldiga Hospital are reconstructing a previously unused section of the Kuldīga Hospital that will house the Kurzeme Regional Management and Dispatch Center. U.S. EUCOM has provided approximately $991,000 in funding for the project, as part of its CE Program. Additionally, a contract has been signed for reconstruction of SEMS’s Brigade Support Center “Krasts” in Rīga. The project includes a complete interior renovation, replacement of windows and doors, and construction of a new garage for ambulance vehicles. The total value of this project is approximately $686,000. Additionally, in August 2014, a new contract was signed for construction of ambulance car maintenance bay for SEMS’s Riga Management and Dispatch Center on Duntes Street in Riga. Total value of the project is approximately $230,000.00.
ODC Latvia works closely with Latvian government agencies that identify and submit projects for the CE Program. Proposed projects are then submitted to U.S. European Command for approval. Once approved, ODC Latvia works with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and local contractors to ensure that the work is completed in accordance with the requirements of the supported government agency. These projects demonstrate the close cooperation between the U.S. and Latvian governments and bring the benefits of this relationship to the citizens of Latvia.
- On January 9, 2009, the US Ambassador to Latvia and the ODC office officially opened the reconstructed Children and Youth Center “Vabolīte” in Daugavpils region. The center provides family-like environment for children who are left without parental care. (Project costs: $276,000.00)
- On May 21, 2009, the ODC officially opened the Stair lift project at the Kalkuni Children’s Home in Daugavpils. This facility has 135 children with disabilities from infants up to age 18. The installation of the stair lift provided a much needed means for the Kalkuni staff to move the children between floors and outside. Previously, the staff had to physically carry the children and wheel chairs up and down the stairs multiple times a day. In 2008 ODC completed the renovation of an elevator at the same facility (Costs of both projects: $38,600).
- On May 26, 2010. – U.S. Ambassador to Latvia
Judith Garber visited the city of Ventspils to participate in the opening of a
fire tower at the Ventspils Fire and Rescue Service Station, which was
reconstructed by U.S. Navy engineers (SeaBees) in connection with the military
exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010. The sailors assisted in refurbishing
the Fire Training Tower by removing the old wood and reinforcing the frame of
the structure. (Project costs: $15,400).
- On June 14, 2010 the ODC and U.S. Navy “SeaBees”
officially opened two renovation projects in western Latvia. The Ventspils
Orphanage “Selga” received two renovated bathrooms, and the Liepaja 8th
High School received a refurbished auditorium. These projects were conducted as
part of the military exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2010. Thirty sailors
teamed up with Latvian contractors to complete both projects (Costs of both
projects: $37,850). Additionally, as part of the same exercise, a group of U.S.
sailors and Marines repainted portions of a playground at Liepaja’s Jurmala
- On December 10, 2010 2010, U.S. Ambassador to
Latvia Judith Garber visited Liepaja where she participated in the ribbon
cutting ceremony at the city’s Child and Youth Center, which received extensive
renovation of the common access areas. The Liepāja Children and Youth Center
has an important mission – to contribute to the personal and professional
development of young people. The total value of the renovation at the Children
and Youth Center is 165,000 USD.
- On May 17, 2011 U.S. Ambassador to Latvia,
Judith Garber, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the SFRS Madona Division, one of the first
fire stations to receive funding under the CE program. At the ceremony
Ambassador Garber noted: “It is
such a pleasure to participate in the ribbon-cutting in Madona. These projects
enhance the safety of the neighborhoods served by these fire stations. They are
such a wonderful example of U.S.-Latvian collaboration!” The total value
of Madona project is: 131,460.00 USD.
- On 12 January, 2012, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia
Judith Garber visited Skilbeni parish’s Social Care Home, which had been
recently renovated by the local municipality, including the installation of a
modern heating system that was funded by the U.S. European command Civic
Engagement Program. According to Chairman of Vilaka council parish Sergejs
Maksimovs, the new modern heating system saves a significant amount of money
spent on utilities. Total value of heating system installation was 106,297.68
- On May 14, 2012 U.S. Ambassador to Latvia Judith Garber participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for the Fire and Rescue Station renovation project at the Gulbene Fire and Rescue Station. Ministry of Interior Deputy State Secretary Mr. Viktors Elksnis, Deputy State Fire and Rescue Chief Colonel Intars Zitāns, and Gulbene Mayor Mrs. Sandra Daudziņa, as well as U.S. European Command representative, Colonel Shawn Fritz, also participated in the ceremony. The fire station renovation includes installation of a new three-bay garage, as well as the replacement of the existing garage
doors, ventilation system, electrical system, and roof. The total contract
value is 477,180,68 USD. In her remarks, Ambassador Garber noted: “The
Embassy’s contributions to these projects provide an opportunity to support and recognize the hard work and dedication of the courageous men and women who respond to complex and dangerous situations without regard for their own personal safety or well-being. We are proud to partner with them in this effort by helping build their capacity to respond to these situations more quickly and effectively.”
- On Thursday, March 21, 2013 U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Mark Pekala, participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the newly reconstructed Fire and Rescue Station in Gulbene. Ministry of Interior State Secretary Ilze Pētersone-Godmane, Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service Deputy Chief Colonel Intars Zitāns, and the Head of the Gulbene Regional Council Sandra Daudziņa also participated in the ceremony. The fire station’s renovation included the construction of a new three-bay garage, as well as the replacement of the doors, ventilation system and electrical systems, and the roof of the existing garage. The renovation work was carried out by SIA “Ekers,” and was financed by the Civic Engagement program of U.S. European Command in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Latvia. The total contract value is $477,180 USD. Gulbene Fire Brigade station Chief Vijārs Griķis is satisfied with the finished project, noting that it will help the Gulbene fire fighters respond to emergencies even faster. “We are happy to see another renovated and beautiful building in Gulbene, and, of course, our emergency response time has definitely decreased. This is of great benefit to everyone in the Gulbene municipality.” Together with the U.S. Embassy in Latvia, in 2013 the United States European Command will complete refurbishment projects at eight fire brigade stations across Latvia, work valued at over 2.3 million USD. Several new projects in collaboration with Latvia’s Emergency Medical Services will follow this year as well.
- On Wednesday, May 29 2013, the U.S. Ambassador to Latvia, Mark Pekala, participated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the newly reconstructed Fire and Rescue Station in Aizkraukle. Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Interior, Mr. Viktors Elksnis; the Chief of the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia LTC Oskars Āboliņš, and the Head of the Aizkraukle Regional Council, Mr. Leons Līdums, also participated in the ceremony. The fire station renovation includes construction of a new two-bay garage and the replacement of the windows, roof, and facade of the existing garage. The renovation was carried out by SIA “Koger Vide,” and was financed by the Civic Engagement Program of the U.S. European Command in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation in Latvia. The total contract is valued at $372,387 USD.
- August 2013, the United States European Command and the U.S. Embassy in Latvia in cooperation with Alūksne Municipality implemented a project of replacing windows at Ernesta Glika Gymnasium in Alūksne. Project funding – 130,000 USD – was provided by U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement Program. U.S. Air National Guard and Latvian military engineers worked together to replace the windows as part of their annual military training. Local contractor SIA RCI Gulbene supplied all necessary materials, as well as provided technical expertise and quality assurance. Nominated by Alūksne Municipality, the project was completed by August 30, before the start of the new school year. “Projects like these provide both training opportunities for soldiers, as well as a tangible benefit to the local population. The troops are provided with an opportunity to maintain their operational skills, as well as the experience of working in a foreign country and culture with foreign military personnel,” said LTC Roger L. Bowman, Chief of Office of Defense Cooperation, U.S. Embassy Latvia.
- On September 26, 2013, U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Caryn McClelland visited Kuldīga, where she toured the State Emergency Medical Service’s Kurzeme Regional Management and Dispatch Center, which was being renovated under U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement Program. The United States European Command (U.S. EUCOM) and the U.S. Embassy in Latvia, in cooperation with the Latvian State Emergency Medical Service (SEMS) and the Kuldīga Hospital, are reconstructing a previously unused section of the Kuldīga Hospital that will house the Kurzeme Regional Management and Dispatch Center. U.S. EUCOM has provided approximately $900,000 in funding for the project. In addition to the Kuldīga project, the U.S. EUCOM Civic Engagement Program is funding the reconstruction of SEMS’s Rīga Regional District Ambulance Support Station Krasts in Rīga. The project includes a complete interior renovation, replacement of windows and doors, and construction of a new garage for ambulance vehicles. The total value of this project is approximately $686,000. In 2013, the U.S. Embassy’s Office of Defense Cooperation, together with the U.S. EUCOM and Latvian State Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS), completed refurbishment projects at eight fire and rescue stations across Latvia, with a total value of over $2.3 million.
- On August 20, 2014, U.S. Embassy Riga Chargé d’Affaires Sharon Hudson-Dean; U.S. Brigadier General Kevin McNeely, Deputy Director Strategy, Policy, and Programming, U.S. European Command; Chairman of the Saeima Solvita Aboltina; Mayor of Kurzeme Regional Council Inga Berziņa; and Director of the Latvian State Emergency Medical Service Mr. Armands Ploriņs participated in an opening ceremony of the reconstructed Kurzeme Regional Dispatch Center in Kuldīga. The new Dispatch Center is located in the renovated Kuldīga city hospital building and will operate 24-hours per day, serving 262,000 residents of the Kurzeme region. Funding of 991,012.29 USD for the reconstruction was provided by the U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement Program and implemented by the U.S. Embassy Riga Office of Defense Cooperation. The project brought together Latvia’s State Emergency Medical Service, Kuldīga Hospital, the U.S. European Command, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation to reconstruct and strengthen the foundations of an abandoned building, provide equipment and furniture, and develop center that will serve as a hub for 25 medical brigades located in 15 different locations throughout the Kurzeme region. The Kurzeme Regional Dispatch Center is the first project financially supported by the U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement Program with the State Emergency Medical Service. Currently, two other projects in Riga are being supported and implemented under the same program – construction of a maintenance garage for the Riga Regional Management and Dispatch Center and reconstruction of the Brigade Support Center “Krasts”.
- On August 28, 2014, U.S. Embassy Riga and Latvian Officials participated in closing ceremonies to mark the completion of two Humanitarian Civic Assistance (HCA) projects at Adazi High School and Ogre 1st High School. The project at Adazi High School included installation of perimeter fence around the school grounds ensuring a safe environment for children; the project at Ogre 1st High School involved insulation and replacement of a section of the school’s roof. The U.S. European Command’s Civic Engagement Program, through the U.S. Embassy Riga Office of Defense Cooperation, provided $92,470.00 (€70,154.00) for the Adazi HCA project and $160,400.00 (€121,667.00) for the Ogre HCA project. Both projects brought together three teams of approximately 45 military engineers from Washington DC’s Air National Guard 113th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES), the 110th CES Michigan Air National Guard, 145th CES North Carolina Air National Guard and Latvian military engineers, who worked side by side to implement the projects in both schools.