Leesville Volunteers of the Year: ‘We love this community’

Published 9:35 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

By Emily Burleigh

Chris and Jennifer Ausbun are the city of Leesville’s Volunteers of the Year.

The couple was presented the award at the Leesville City Council meeting on Monday.

Mayor Rick Allen said the Ausbuns — who are some of his “favorite people” — were honored because of their work at the recently opened Leesville Event Center.

“When I called for them and told them that we were doing some renovations to the new event center to benefit our youth, these people showed up every Saturday and put a paintbrush in their hands and painted and stayed as long as I stayed. Some days, it was just me and them there. We got to talk and to work and we accomplished a lot. I’m beyond proud.”

The pair are members of the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association Chapter 6-1 in Vernon Parish. CVMA is a national association of veterans from every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces who ride motorcycles as a hobby. The mission of CVRA is to support and defend veterans.

The Ausbuns planted their roots in Leesville before Chris retired from the military. He noted the area’s authentic appreciation for veterans and Fort Johnson is one of the main reasons they decided to settle in Leesville.

“We love this community. I’ve been all around the world, we’ve been all around the United States. A lot of people say we love our veterans, but sometimes it is a catchphrase. Here it’s not. You truly care about your veterans in the community, it shows every single day.”

With Fort Johnson around the corner from Leesville, Allen said the city’s relationships with veterans’ clubs are deep.

“Most people in most towns don’t have what we have. We have relationships with most of our clubs that actually get out and work in our communities.”

Chris has worked closely with the city before, Allen said. He recalled when Chris began to work for the city of Leesville as the head of Fort Johnson’s (then Fort Polk) vegetation control contract.

“He helped us make some crucial changes to that contract through his leadership. A lot of the things that he put in place are still working for us today out at Fort Johnson.”

More than anything, Allen’s “favorite thing” about Chris is his wife, Jennifer.

“She’s awesome. She was up and down those ladders just like everybody else, working very hard in the event center.”

The city had two plaques made to honor Chris and Jennifer. One plaque was presented to the couple at the meeting. The other will be permanently installed at the Leesville Event Center, 608 Nolan Trace.