By Kimberly Gearhart, USAG Schweinfurt Public AffairsAugust 13, 2008
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- Striving to be the best Army community in Europe has long been the goal of U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt commanders and garrison agencies. Recently, those efforts have been widely-recognized as successes, ranging from commendations for the best Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers (BOSS) program in Europe to, most recently, the best recreation center in the Army.
The Finney Recreation Center, located on Conn Barracks, was chosen as the best recreation center in its size category in the Army, and will be formally recognized Aug. 27 during the Soldier Family Action Plan training symposium in Louisville, Ky.
"We just found out Monday. We're really proud of that accomplishment. Last year we won the best overall recreation program in Europe. This year we won the best recreation center in the department of the Army," said Dave Luellwitz, community recreation division chief for USAG Schweinfurt.
Installation Management Command-Europe's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation branch chief Dan Gasparino called the award "a true indication of the excellence and pride" demonstrated by the management and staff of each winning facility.
Luellwitz credited his own staff with the lion's share of the credit for capturing the Army-wide honors.
"Our recreation programmer, Silvia Joiner, has done an outstanding job ... getting the community involved and establishing partnerships" which enrich the program and highlight the Recreation Center's capabilities, he said.
Joiner is currently in the United States, representing the Schweinfurt BOSS program, which is under consideration for Best in the Army honors.
The dedication and determination of the staff is bolstered by the Finney Fitness Center's recent half-million dollar facelift as well.
"It definitely gave us an edge," Luellwitz said. "We have new computers, free wi-fi access, improved gaming capabilities with flat-screen TVs. It's a real first-class operation."
The recreation center, which had last been updated in the early 1980s, updated its look and its equipment during the renovations. The Internet CafAfA now hosts 25 computers, and the movie lounge has new, comfortable furniture, a wide selection of DVDs, and a new plasma screen TV for viewing.
"You have to have the top-of the-line technology in order to attract these young Soldiers. They're used to having the latest and greatest gadgets, and nothing short of that will do. They're digital natives, and we had to change to accommodate them," Luellwitz said.
Patrons of Finney Recreation Center can now choose between playing XBOX 360, Playstation, or Wii games, shooting pool on newly-refurbished tables, or logging on to the Internet-for free-with their personal laptops.
One of the most striking aspects of the renovation, and one Luellwitz credits with helping "put us over the other facilities," is a glass wall between the Recreation Center with the sports bar and grill adjacent to it.
"We can open that wall up, and do partnership events. It allows for so many more possibilities," he said.
And although the Recreation Center has been named Best in the Army, there are no plans to rest on their laurels.
"We're planning more activities every week ... adventure activities, XBOX 360 and pool tournaments," and much more, Luellwitz said.