By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterNovember 21, 2013
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (November 21, 2013) -- A larger sales area, well stocked shelves, more variety and an overall better shopping experience is what Fort Rucker plans to provide to military personnel and their Families with the new, state-of-the-art commissary being built on the installation.
Construction began as officials, including Maj. Gen. Kevin W. Mangum, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker commanding general, and Col. Stuart J. McRae, Fort Rucker garrison commander, took shovels in hand and broke ground on the new 85,302-square-foot facility during a ceremony Nov. 15.
"We're very eager to have (construction) on this commissary start. It's been a long time coming," said McRae at the ceremony. "We've waited a long time for this. I'm a man of great faith, and in great faith I had signs put up this year stating that construction would start (on the new facility) in 2013.
"A lot of the magic (is owed to) our (Directorate of Public Works), contracting folks and a lot of other people around here, and we were able to keep that promise," he continued.
McRae said that much of that dedication was in large part to the team of teams that work together on the installation to make things happen, and stressed that a key part in that teamwork was continuity.
The idea for the new commissary has been in the works for more than four years, said McRae, and it was the persistence of command teams and others involved that came through Fort Rucker that construction has finally begun on the new facility.
The new $16.9 million dollar commissary, located on the corner of Ruff Avenue and Division Road, will be about the same size as the current facility, but will boast a larger floor space and less warehouse space, according to the garrison commander, thus bringing it into a more modern age.
"When the old commissary was built in 1968, the standard then was that you warehoused everything that was in your commissary," said McRae. "Consequently, our old commissary has about 40 percent of floor space that is dedicated to warehouse (space)."
Rather than converting the additional warehouse space in the old facility, which is not air-conditioned, it was decided that a new facility would be more effective to construct than to update the existing, aging building.
The new commissary will house only about 10 percent of warehouse space and use a method called "just-in-time delivery."
"The goods and products come in and the products are stocked on the shelves the night before, which makes for a constant turnover of items on the shelves," said McRae. "The shelves in the store is where the majority of the items will now be stored, and there will be a little bit of extra stock, but not much."
As for the old facility, no decision has been made on what will be done with the building, but ideas are being considered that are in the best interest of the community, said the garrison commander.
"(We're looking at) putting other facilities in there or, if it's not cost effective, (one option) could include tearing it down," he said. "We're going to look at a lot of our options and develop a good plan that we can sustain that's in the best interest of the public."
McRae said that the installation's long-term goal for the area is to develop other facilities around the new commissary to benefit the community, which could include parks, a new theater or even a new post exchange.
"That's our long-range goal, but we're taking it one step at a time, and today it's the commissary," he said.
The new facility is slated for completion by April 2015.