Providing Service with Available Funds
June 17, 2009
- "We're very fortunate to have the experience level we have here."
- "We are habitually told by customers every day that we do the best job and that our level of support is just phenomenal."
- "We are linked in the local community to make sure we are in sync with local priorities," Pastorelli said.
- "From a global perspective, where we are in Huntsville is where it's at," he said.
Experience, commitment, vision - those were the themes of the third quarter Garrison town hall meeting presented by Garrison commander Col. Bob Pastorelli on June 8.
Opening the standing-room-only meeting at Heiser Hall with a slide projecting a list of Garrison employees with 20 or more years of on-the-job experience - including Mildred Lancaster with top seniority at 45 years - Pastorelli said "You can't beat experience and that's what we have here. We're very fortunate to have the experience level we have here."
At the same time, of the Garrison's 600 employees, 150 are eligible for retirement. And, that number, he said "has some dramatic implications."
Retirement eligibility, and growth in the Arsenal's overall employee base and job opportunities from other government entities due to the Base Realignment and Closure recommendations, create challenges for the Garrison in keeping its work force intact.
"The Garrison structure doesn't have as many high grades (of pay) as some of the other organizations coming here," Pastorelli said. "We understand that employees are looking for promotions and we can't blame them if they find that promotion with another organization. We congratulate them and want them to be happy. But we don't want to see anybody leave. We like everyone here on this team."
Even with the challenges of staffing and budgeting, the Garrison has maintained a reputation of providing top-notch service to its customers.
"The Garrison strives to provide service with available funds," Pastorelli said. "We are habitually told by customers every day that we do the best job and that our level of support is just phenomenal. So many people are so appreciative of what we do each and every day."
Even though funding is tight, Garrison employees still meet high standards for customers, he said.
"Your performance shows your ability and dedication," Pastorelli said, adding that directors have been tasked with providing a vision for the Garrison's future to better define organization goals and needs.
The colonel mentioned the recent visit and "windshield tour" on the Arsenal by Lt. Gen. Robert Wilson, commander of the Installation Management Command.
"Gen. Wilson was very impressed with what we do. We are unique. We're a different type of Arsenal ... Gen. Wilson is very happy with what's going on here and he wants us to continue to do great things," Pastorelli said.
He also mentioned the recent visit of Gov. Bob Riley and his announcement of road funding in the Huntsville area.
"We are linked in the local community to make sure we are in sync with local priorities," Pastorelli said. "We told the governor about the challenges as more and more growth occurs on the west and northwest side of the Arsenal. Overall, the governor was impressed. He talked about how the community has come together on projects."
The widening of Zierdt Road is among the action items on the Army's road improvement wish list, he said.
"The residential growth around the Arsenal includes 34,000 approved lots on the northwest and west side," Pastorelli said. "That affects roads, schools, the work force and medical care. Regional growth is outpacing current capacities in these areas. And we are concerned."
Currently, the Huntsville area is known for an outstanding educational system, a highly educated and skilled work force, an efficient transportation system and a high quality health care system. The challenge, Pastorelli said, is maintaining those high standards during a time of "tremendous growth," as stated by the Office of Economic Analysis.
"From a global perspective, where we are in Huntsville is where it's at," he said.
Reviewing construction on the Arsenal, Pastorelli said about $60 million in construction is under way on the west side of the Airfield in connection with the move of the Aviation Technical Test Center to the Arsenal. Other projects either under way or under construction in the near future include the $221.8 million, 839,000-square-foot Von Braun Complex addition, the FBI's Terrorist Explosive Devices Analytical Center Bureau, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms facility on Patton Road, the Child Development Center just off Martin Road and the enhanced use lease project that will create 4 million square feet of much-needed office space near Gate 9.
"Right now, we have a 1.2 million shortfall in the amount of square footage we need," he said. "When OMEMS moves, about 400,000 square feet will be vacant. But those buildings are old and they will probably need to be rehabilitated."
He also mentioned that the Garrison is working to address the lack of a cafeteria, auditorium and gym in the construction plans for the 1,700-employee Army Materiel Command/U.S. Army Security Assistance Command headquarters complex. The Garrison in conjunction with FMWR is working on locating funding for a cafeteria, he said.
The Garrison will also soon be managing about $24 million in economic stimulus funds that will be used to upgrade steam lines and the natural gas system on post as well as a wellness project, a new water tank, runway improvements and several other upgrades.
Addressing other issues, Pastorelli said Gate 8 at Goss Road is still scheduled to open mid-June and Gate 10 on Patton Road will close at about that same time for improvements. However, one lane of Gate 10 will remain open during daytime hours.
Pastorelli also highlighted recent events that have been successful, including the first of the Army's summer concerts hosted by Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation, reviewed the Garrison's efforts in support of the Armywide suicide prevention campaign, mentioned the Aug. 25-26 anti-terrorism exercise on post and discussed the recent Garrison employee survey. He also announced upcoming events, including a Garrison organizational day now in planning for September.