Wing shares developments at Gunter

by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs

2/1/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -  -- The 42nd Air Base Wing leadership held an open ear to those at Gunter Tuesday, offering a venue to ask questions, share concerns and be informed of new developments around the installation.

Representatives from civil engineering, the 42nd Force Support Squadron, the 42nd Medical Group, Hunt Housing and Army and Air Force Exchange Service shared information on current and upcoming projects. However, the main focus of the state of the installation address was to hear from those who work at Gunter.

"We want to know what's on your mind," said Col. Trent Edwards, 42nd Air Base Wing commander. "We want to take questions from you," adding that those at Gunter play an important role in developing mission ready Airmen and operating a world-class installation. "You guys are on the team and we have to be clear, Gunter Annex is Maxwell AFB."

One area of concern was more visible street striping between Gunter's two gates. Mickey Allen, director of the 42nd Civil Engineering Squadron, assured the audience the stripes would be repainted to avoid safety hazards.

Lorenzo Salgado, AAFES general manager, is hoping to bring in a coffee and donut shop that serves breakfast and lunch for more varied food options.

Housing options were also discussed with Chris Radliff, community director for Hunt Housing, which has two- and three-bedroom homes open for Airmen at Maxwell.

Edwards shared his plans for the upcoming consolidated unit inspection and how Maxwell is becoming better stewards of taxpayer dollars. He also discussed ways of building stronger relationships with the River Region, preparing Maxwell Elementary Middle School students for magnet level educations, strengthening key spouses and taking care of Airmen.

One area Edwards hopes to see improved for the upcoming CUI in September is customs, courtesies and dress and personal appearance. In the last inspection in 2011, Maxwell received low marks in these areas. Areas to emphasize will includesaluting, proper wear of the uniform and grooming standards.

"Standards are standards, and so as this inspection comes up in September, I need everyone to be aware we are trying to dig ourselves out of that hole from the last time the inspection came around," said Edwards.

He also informed Gunter of older "legacy" buildings that will continue to be demolished in order to meet Maxwell's goal of reducing the base infrastructure, costs and energy waste by 20 percent before the year 2020.

Another cost-saving measure is the Falcon's Nest. It is closed for structural reasons that would have required $5 million to repair. An enlisted lounge is planned to open inside the Maxwell Club.

Maintaining a strong relationship with the local community is important, as Edwards discussed a potential land exchange between Maxwell and the city of Montgomery, and Principal Robbie Swint works to approve MEMS's curriculum for competition with magnet level high schools.

"We are working very closely with our mayor of Montgomery looking at swapping some land," said Edwards. "What the mayor envisions is a continuation of downtown to the base. We've got some land they would like to develop for industry that we just don't use and we'll take on some land that they're willing to give to us."

Chief Master Sgt. Garth Meade, wing command chief, asked for volunteers to help with the honor guard. There are currently only 40 members on the team, which covers ceremonies for the whole state of Alabama. Meade is looking to increase those numbers, and openings are available for enlisted as well as lieutenants.

Col. Marina Ray, commander of the 42nd Medical Group, informed the crowd of a new program at the clinic called MiCare, which is a secure messaging system between patients and their health care provider for medication refill requests, lab results and scheduling appointment. Registration forms are available at the clinic.

Maj. Natalie Jolly, 42nd FSS commander, gave a list of events and activities coming up for everyone to enjoy including Mardi Gras Feb. 8, Harlem Wizards Feb. 22, Easter egg hunt March 16 and Easter brunch March 31. She also said that through support of such base services as the auto hobby shop, Gunter Lanes bowling center and food and gas services, FSS is able to reallocate those funds to provide free events and entertainment.

Edwards said he hopes that through sharing such information and becoming more visible, the panel of leadership can better care for Airmen and civilians at both Maxwell and Gunter.

"The 42nd ABW is the host installation and we are responsible for the care and the feeding, infrastructure, the spacing requirements, the quality of life, the quality of service programs, all of that for Gunter," said Edwards. "We accept that responsibility and we're proud to do that."