NEWS | April 7, 2016

Answers to recent town hall questions

By 628th Air Base Wing/Public Affairs

Col. Robert Lyman, the commander of Joint Base Charleston, recently hosted a series of town halls for base residents and families. During those town halls, attendees raised a number of questions about morale and welfare on base. The questions ranged from traffic crossings and street lights to school options and ride share services.

Below, you'll find responses from base leaders to each of those questions, along with ways to learn more.

Q1:  The reflectivity of base street signs and lines on roadways has degraded.  What is the plan to correct that, and when can we expect to see updates start?
A1:  We are currently inventorying ALL of our JB CHS road signs for compliance with the new DOD/DOT standards.  As part of the study, reflectivity is being measured.  After study is complete, a plan will be developed by the Transportation Asset Management (TAM) team to prioritize and incorporate replacing signs that do not meet the new standards.  We also evaluate our pavement striping on an annual basis and prioritize all Joint Base requirements together to form an integrated priority list of projects needed.  The specific timeline for correction of these issues cannot be provided as the requirements will not be the same priority and will compete with all Joint Base maintenance project needs at the Facilities Board.  We estimate incorporating the sign study data into the Transportation Network plan at the third quarter TAM meeting (Jun 2016).  However, if there are particular areas of concern, please contact the chairperson of our Base Traffic Council, Lt Col Taylor, at 963-2200, or ralph.taylor.l@us.af.mil.

Q2:  Could you summarize the long and short term efforts being taken to address the traffic and security of the Red Bank Road area of the Weapons Station?
A2:  A security study on Redbank Road has been completed and there will be a long-term process for securing funding for a project of such magnitude.  The road is a state road and is the responsibility of the state to fund and maintain.  Although traffic can be heavy at times, the state and community have numerous traffic problems so Redbank is competing for attention with many other congested areas in and around Berkley County and Goose Creek.  To provide short-term relief, we have worked with SCDOT on a study to maximize the efficiency of the traffic signal timing on Redbank.  They completed the study in February of 2016 and adjusted the timing of the lights.  We have seen slight improvement due to the adjustments and will continue to monitor.

Q3:  What is the status of risk mitigation efforts at our crosswalks? 
A3:  The Base Traffic Safety Engineering Coordination Group (BTSECG or Base Traffic Council) is constantly evaluating our crosswalks to ensure the safety of our pedestrians.  The Base Traffic Council meets regularly and prior to their meetings, they do a drive-around on the joint base evaluating any potential problem areas.   For crosswalks in particular, they look for proper painting/striping, lighting where appropriate, visibility limitations due to trees/blind spots, and other factors.  When there is a troublesome location, they can install mitigating measures, such as traffic safety bollards (reflective stanchions) in the middle of the crosswalk.  Most recently, they worked with the Medical Group facility manager, as well as our Civil Engineers, to install mitigating measures at two crosswalks on Arthur Drive.  Also, as a general reminder, safety at crosswalks starts with pedestrians.  Even with the right of way, it is incumbent upon us all to ensure there is no oncoming traffic before stepping in to a crosswalk.  If you have any concerns about crosswalks or any input for our Base Traffic Council, please contact Lt Col Taylor at 963-2200 or e-mail:  ralph.taylor.1@us.af.mil.

Q4:  What can residents and the housing office do to better enforce policies in the housing areas, both on the Air Base and the Weapons Station (bulk trash, parking, speeding, etc)?
A4:  Forest City (recently changed to Hunt Companies) and Balfour Beatty, our privatized housing contractors on JB-CHS, ultimately have the responsibility to enforce housing covenants and standards.  However, our Civil Engineering (CE) Housing Office does monitor their performance in all areas and can provide assistance if they are not meeting the mark.  Residents can be good stewards by ensuring their trash is placed inside a tied off garbage bag and inside of their trash containers.  Bulk items can be broken down and bound into bundles to make them less likely to blow away.  Trash/recycle cans can be placed on the curb no earlier than 1900 the night before trash/recycle pickup and must be removed from curb no later than 1900 the day of pickup.  Your housing feedback is welcome and solicited during several annual surveys and/or Resident Advisory Board meetings.  You may also call our CE Housing Office directly at 963-3872. 

Q5:  What can be done in housing areas to limit high-speed drivers impacting safety?
A5:   Security Forces (SF) routinely focus traffic enforcement and speed calming efforts on areas where residents have reported speeding or in areas that have high vehicle accident rates.  To help address this concern, additional SF patrols will be requested for all housing areas.  For those special areas around the Child Development Centers, roadside signage and markings will be reviewed to ensure they are prominent and visible.  If additional caution signs or devices are necessary they will be acquired/installed.  Additionally, in response to neighborhood complaints, SF will provide inputs to the quarterly Base Traffic Council to synchronize efforts and enforcement strategies, to include posting of mobile speed display trailers, emplacement of traffic calming devices, signage, and selective radar enforcement.  Recently, discussions were held about the viability of adding speed bumps to housing roads to deter speeding, however, it was determined the speed bumps would hamper the ability of emergency vehicles to reach residences in a timely manner.  Our Security Forces can't be there all the time so we depend on others for assistance as well.  Our privatized housing partners, Hunt Companies (Air Base) and Balfour Beatty (Weapons Station) will send out resident reminders via email, post reminders to their websites and address the issue of traffic safety during their regularly scheduled Resident Advisory Board Meetings.  To report speeding in your neighborhood or work area, call the Joint Base Charleston BDOC at (843) 963-3600 on the Air Base or at (843) 794-7555 on the weapons station.  

Q6:  Where can people go to learn more about Palmetto Scholars Academy and other local school options? 
A6:  Palmetto Scholars Academy (PSA) is a Gifted and Talented State Charter school for grades 6-12.  The school was established several years ago and recently moved in to a brand new facility located on the Hunley Park side of Joint Base Charleston (Air Base).  PSA runs an annual lottery to fill student vacancies.  Under state law, they have a 20 percent set-aside rule for children of active duty military.  That means 20 percent of the vacancies per grade (6-12) go to military children.  Additional information about PSA can be found at www.palmettoscholarsacademy.org.  You can also contact our JB-CHS School Liaison Officer (SLO), Sharon Gardner, at 843-963-5782.

Q7:  What efforts are being done to clean up the appearance of Joint Base Charleston?  In particular landscaping and other public area refurbishment.
A7:  Joint Base Charleston was required by higher headquarters to lower the overall level of service for base appearance due to extreme cuts in funding.  This is especially true in the grounds maintenance arena.  The frequency of landscaping services was reduced in low visibility areas.  Unfortunately, this is a reality of the budget-constrained times we currently operate in.  Of course, we still strive to maintain the base in the best condition possible with the funds we have available.  If you see areas of particular concern, don't hesitate to call our civil engineer squadron at 843-963-4955.

Q8:  On the Naval Weapon Station, what fixes are being done to increase lighting in the single story home section?
A8:   Our civil engineers are monitoring the status of lighting and replacing bulbs/lamps when needed.  Work orders are being submitted to repair site and street lights around the homes and along the housing perimeter.   Residents can report outages by calling our privatized housing offices, Balfour Beatty (843-797-5631) or Hunt Companies (843-552-0600).  You can also always contact our CE Housing Office at 843-963-3860. 

Q9:  Some nights, the lights on the Air Base baseball field stay on all night long, can the sensors be adjusted to save power and reduce light at night?
A9:  Thank you for identifying this problem as it does impact our energy consumption and goals to reduce usage.  The 628th Force Support Squadron (FSS) manages the playing fields and turns the lights off manually after nightly contests.  Right now, there are no auto sensors or timers, however, our engineers are working with FSS leadership on evaluating a project to install these types of devices.

Q10:  Can we put in a concrete walkway from Fleet & Family Support Center to the bank?  This will reduce mud and increase traffic flow?
A10:  Yes and thanks for the suggestion.  Civil Engineering will work with the Fleet & Family Support Center to develop a work order/project to determine the best location for the concrete sidewalk and prioritize/schedule the work based on funding availability and in-house work priority. 

Q11:  How often do we spray for mosquitos on base?
A11:  From Spring to late Fall, the Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) will spray, fog, and conduct aerial spraying operations based on mosquito counts collected by both the CES and MDG in multiple locations throughout Joint Base Charleston.  In Fiscal Year 16, CES has made arrangements for three aerial spray operations over the Weapons Station and multiple ground based operations.  The frequency and timing of these operations are based on the mosquito counts.  All community members who live and work on Joint Base Charleston are asked to assist with mosquito abatement by eliminating water holding containers/standing water in their yards and around their work areas.  Any standing water allows mosquitos to lay eggs and exacerbates the problem.

Q12:  Why have there been so many scheduled mass power outages on the Weapons Station lately?  Why can't we do those at night and not affect our weekends?
A12:  Our engineers are currently upgrading our electrical substations and distribution system on the Weapons Station to increase the reliability of the grids.  While working on high voltage electricity, the safety and accuracy of the job is paramount, this prevents us from accomplishing scheduled work at night.  It is also safer for residents to not have power during daylight hours.  To minimize the impact to Joint Base personnel and its multiple missions, we are accomplishing the large outages on weekends during the daytime hours.  By increasing our overall grid reliability now, we will prevent unscheduled outages in the future.

Q13:  What possible changes to arming policies are being considered for the Joint Base? 
A13:  Our security forces squadron (SFS) has instituted weekly arming of select back office staff personnel as a force protection random antiterrorism measure (RAM).  The Chairman, Mission Assurance Working Group has formed an Arming Working Group that has been tasked to review additional arming options on the installation.  Current options under review:  allowing personnel that fall under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (LEOSA) to carry weapons on base, the utilization of lock boxes to transport weapons on to the base, implementation of the Unit Marshal Program, and the allowance for personnel with a SC Concealed Weapons Permit to carry weapons on base.  Due to the complex and potentially dangerous threat posed by additional weapons on the installation, a detailed analysis will be completed prior to any decision being made.  If you have any questions or concerns, you can contact our security forces commander at 843-963-3611. 

Q14:  What is allowable in terms of ride share services (like UBER) to operate on base, versus a taxi?
A14:  In accordance with the Joint Base's Integrated Defense Plan, UBER, LYFT and other ride sharing services are currently not authorized on the installation.  However, due to the increase in popularity and use of these services, our security forces, in coordination with the Mission Assurance Working Group, is examining a change to this policy to correlate with current taxi rules for the installation.  Expect more information to come out in the near future regarding this issue. 

Q15:  What planning is being done to convert showers in the AB gym to single showers versus the open bay style showers there now?
A15:  Projects have been submitted and prioritized for the locker rooms at both the AB & WS Fitness Centers.  The scope of these projects includes replacing the showers (to include privacy measures), improving ventilation, and repairing the epoxy floors in the locker rooms.  The WS Fitness Center renovation is currently on the FY16 Sustainment, Repair, and Maintenance (SR&M) list.  The AB Fitness Center repair is currently on the FY17 SR&M list.  We hope to have them funded in their projected fiscal years, 2016 and 2017.

Q16:  What drives the hours that the WS and AB libraries are open?
A16:  Hours of operation at the WS and AB libraries are ultimately driven by available manpower, funding, and demand for the services.  We operate both libraries with a single staff, which necessitates scheduling the library hours to provide availability of services on either the AB or WS each day.  The AB library is open Sundays - Wednesdays and the WS library is open Wednesdays - Saturdays.  Additionally, we recently finalized a partnership agreement with Berkeley County which will bring their Bookmobile onto the WS twice per month on days when the WS library is closed.  If the bookmobile is a hit, we will talk with Berkley County about the possibility of increasing the services.  We are very proud of our library program here...they won Air Force Level Library of the Year in 2013 and have built on many of the successes that earned them that award!  For information on the libraries or the bookmobile services, please contact our base librarian, Ms. Angela Aschenbrenner, at 843-963-3320.

Q17:  What is "Tutor.com" and how can a military family take advantage of that service?
A17:  Tutor.com is an online assistance tool which provides 24/7 access to highly-qualified virtual tutors for a variety of school subjects, as well as SAT & ACT test preparation.  Military members and their families are offered access to these services free of charge.  Funding is provided by the DoD MWR Library Program, the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, and Navy General Library Program.  To receive this free access, go to www.tutor.com, and click the "For Military" link near the top of the page.  Select the applicable branch of service, and follow the instructions to certify eligibility.  For more information, contact our Schools Liaison Officer (SLO), Ms. Sharon Gardner, at 843-963-5782.

Q18:  What is the status of FSS transferring equipment between locations on the AB or WS for customer pick-up?
A18:  Outdoor Recreation (ODR) on the AB and the Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) on the WS both have equipment available for rent.  Both locations are dedicated to working together and will check equipment availability across locations for customers as well as provide a listing of what each facility carries on a regular basis.  Our Force Support Squadron (FSS) leadership will look at inventories at both locations to ensure we are hitting the mark with our current levels.  If we find a need for more equipment at either location, based on demand, we will purchase the new equipment to satisfy the demand.  FSS is also working on a new process which would allow, given enough notice, for smaller pieces of equipment to be transferred between locations for customer pick up.  As they develop this new process, the details will be publicized at each facility.  We expect to have this plan finalized before the summer high demand season.  If you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact Mr. Ed Wigim at 843-963-6255, Ms. Merrill Troxell at 843-963-1732, or Ms. Annette Sellers at 843-794-2120.

Q19:  Are all the same services and tickets available at both the AB and WS ITT offices?  If not, why not?  Why are the ITT hours not the same on the AB and WS?
A19:  We have two ITT locations:  Outdoor Recreation (ODR) on the AB and Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) on the WS.  What is carried at each location is based primarily on the demographics of that area and of course, the demand.  The two centers are dedicated to working together and will check ticket availability across both locations for their customers as well as provide a listing of what is available at each center.  We are working on a new initiative which should be complete in May 2016 where we will offer the same tickets at both locations.  If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact Mr. Ed Wigim at 843-963-6255, Ms. Merrill Troxell at 843-963-1732, or Ms. Annette Sellers at 843-794-2120.

Q20:  What is the status of food trucks coming to both the Air Base and the Weapons Station?
A20:  The food trucks have arrived!  Right now AAFES sponsors a Philly Cheese Steak truck that is coming on the Air Base two times per week.  See www.phillycheesesteaksc.com for menu and scheduling info.  The NEX sponsors food trucks coming on to the Weapons Station.  Right now, they have Korki's Kafe.  See www.korkiskafe.com for menu and schedule.  AAFES and the NEX will be working with our Public Affairs office to get the schedule in to the weekly base bulletin and also on the JB Charleston Facebook page.  For questions on our food truck program, contact AAFES at 843-552-1463 or the NEX at 843-794-7042.

Q21:  Does the BX or NEX carry petite size clothing?
A21:  Our exchanges, AAFES and NEX, carry Michael Kors, Alfred Dunner, & Ellen Tracy in petite sizes.  For any questions or concerns please contact AAFES at 843-552-1463 or the NEX at 843-794-7042.

Q22:  What is the venue I can use to request the BX or NEX carry a certain brand item?
A22:  Any brand names not carried in store may be found online at shopmyexchange.com with free shipping with purchases over 50 dollars.  For any questions or concerns with what brands our exchanges are carrying, please contact AAFES at 843-552-1463 or the NEX at 843-794-7042.

Q23:  Can you explain the surcharge at the Commissary and how that compares to taxes off base?
A23:  The Surcharge is not a tax.  Surcharge dollars go back into stores, paying for the construction of new/replacement stores, renovations, maintenance and repairs, store equipment, bags, and store-level information technology systems, such as the checkouts.  The overall savings for commissary shoppers is right around 30 percent, even after considering the five percent surcharge.  The surcharge has been set at five percent since 1983 and cannot be changed without congressional approval.

Q24:  When will the next case lot sales be held?  How often are they held?
A24:  The next Case Lot Sale will be held 18-20 May 2016.  We try to do them at least twice per year.

Q25:  What are the policies that govern use of official email for non-mission use - such as personal use, private organization use, etc?  What can be done to cut down and limit those "spam" emails?
A25:  Government-provided hardware and software are for official use and limited to authorized personal use only.  Air Force Manual (AFMAN) 33-152, User Responsibilities and Guidance for Information Systems, paragraph 3.1 discusses "limited authorized personal use" which must be of reasonable duration, frequency, approved by supervisors and does not affect performance of official duties, overburden systems or reflect adversely on the Air Force or DoD.  Paragraph 3.1.3 outlines some examples of authorized limited personal use.  The mandatory user agreement for network access, Air Force Form 4394, also covers additional expectations for system and network use.  With respect to Private Organizations (PO), Air Force Instruction 34-223, Private Organizations (PO) Program, provides guidance.  The AFI, paragraph 11.1.3, prohibits the use of official email, mail computers, copiers, and the Base Information Transfer System for membership or fundraising purposes.  Traditional means of notification covering topics that are in general interest to the populace are authorized.  Locally, the base bulletin and the JB Charleston FSS website (www.jbcharleston.com) were approved avenues to advertise PO membership and fundraising events.  In addition, the 628th Force Support Squadron is drafting supplemental guidance outlining PO rules which will be released in the near future.
Regarding spam emails, the weekly base bulletin championed by the Public Affairs office (PAO) consolidates as much as possible for release to base users in an effort to minimize disparate entities sending frequent mass emails across the base.  Time-sensitive and urgent notifications will still be pushed out as needed, by exception.  Very few users require the rights to send to base distribution lists and the 628th Communications Squadron (CS) is in the process of scrubbing rights to those lists.  Access to send to these is limited and requires valid justification and approval through the 628 CS.  In addition to the base bulletin and FSS website, the PAO has done a superb job in pushing a large portion of information through the JB Charleston public website (www.charleston.af.mil) and Facebook page.