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TORII STATION, Okinawa — What to do with $3 million extra spending money?

That’s the question facing the Army on Okinawa, after Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday named the 10th Area Support Group at Torii Station a winner in the 2003 Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence competition.

The annual award recognizes a military installation from each Defense Department entity that excels at quality-of-life initiatives and provide top-notch work, housing and recreational conditions for their respective populations.

As the Army’s premiere “community of excellence,” Torii will receive a $3 million cash prize to further improve base services.

Army inspectors visited Torii in January to evaluate base operations, said Nory Nakanishi, the 10th ASG’s quality management program manager.

“They were impressed with our operations … at finding people who were very knowledgeable in the service they provided,” he said.

Torii stood out, Nakanishi added, because of its planning process and the management tools base leaders used to monitor performance, focus on mission and customer satisfaction and build positive relations with key communities.

Every year since 1998, Torii Station has won the Army’s Communities of Excellence award at the major command level for the U.S. Army Pacific but this is the first year it also won at the Department of the Army level, Nakanishi said.

To claim that honor, Torii competed against nine other installations from around the world representing major Army commands.

The $1 million the command has won as a runner-up the past five years has gone toward quality-of-life projects including building a picnic pavilion and buying a beach cleaner, Nakanishi said.

The command, which decides how the award will be spent, already has received 86 requests from community members on how to spend this year’s grand prize, she said, noting that officials have yet to decide which “wish list” items to pursue.

Office, recreational, fitness and electronic equipment were among the low-end items on the wish list. Construction, paving and refurnishing projects costing more than $100,000 were among the high-end requests. The $3 million will cover all the current wish-list items and another $700,000 worth of requests.

Vanessa Lee, a spokeswoman for the Army on Okinawa, said the 10th ASG commander, Col. Janice Berry, is to attend a Pentagon ceremony May 2 to receive the award.

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