<b>FREDRICK, Md. -</b> Following public comments regarding the format of previous community town hall meetings, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Detrick officials rethought how to invite the public to learn about the installation's various missions and people.

The answer was tested Jan. 31 at the Whittaker Campus Center, Hood College in the form of an exhibition-style event.

Instead of numerous PowerPoint slides and briefings, installation partners and garrison elements set up displays and tabletops, and chatted with attendees in an informal, relaxed setting where attendees were encouraged to walk around and ask questions.

In opening remarks, garrison commander Col. Judith Robinson urged visitors to take time to talk to each of the presenters, and noted once more that "We ARE the community. As you talk to these folks, remember that of the 10,000 people who come to work at Fort Detrick every day, about 85 percent of us live in the surrounding community."

Noting the relatively small number of uniforms amongst presenters, Robinson reminded the community visitors the Detrick is mainly a civilian institution.

"What you see is a pretty good representation of the balance between uniformed military personnel and civilian workers," she said.

Community visitors included local elected officials, members of the newly formed Containment Laboratory Community Advisory Council, interested citizens and a few students from Hood.

"This is wonderful,' said Frederick City Alderman Shelley Aloi. "I've really enjoyed getting a closer look at all this."

Displays and presenters included Soldiers and Civilians from the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, U.S. Army Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, Naval Medical Research Center, 21st Signal Brigade and more. Garrison offices including the Environmental Management Office, Safety Office, Chaplain's Office, Network Enterprise Center and Directorate for Human resources were joined by the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center to provide information and assistance to visitors.

"I consider this a success," said Robinson. "I'd have loved for more people to come out, but with the weather reports, I'm glad we got the crowd we did. We'll certainly be doing this again!"

Page last updated Tue February 1st, 2011 at 13:29