While most Soldiers enjoyed time off during Block Leave, construction crews took advantage of the vacated buildings and completed $1 million of renovations to almost every Basic Combat Training and Advanced Individual Training barracks.

The renovation focused on removing mold, replacing broken fixtures, updating the plumbing and painting walls and ceilings in the latrines and laundry rooms.

"Mold in the barracks does not present a clean, healthy environment, so the work in the barracks was very much needed," said Garrison Command Sgt. Major Lewis Kellam, who jumpstarted the project. "(The renovations) put the Soldiers in an environment that we want them to see and more so let them know that we care about them and we're going to take care of the facilities that they live in."

Work began Dec. 19 and was completed before the Soldiers returned from Block Leave Jan. 2.

"We were looking for a contractor who was going to work 24/7," Kellam said. We knew that we had a short time to get this done and there was a lot of work that needed to be done."

Precise planning was required to be able to complete the project within the given timeframe.

"It was a big team effort from everybody (involved)," said Don Richardson, who oversaw the renovations as an engineering technician with the Directorate of Public Works. "If everybody hadn't put that extra commitment into it, it wouldn't have worked."

Despite the logistical challenges, the project was completed without a glitch.

"It went great," Kellam said. "I've received great remarks from the Soldiers as well as the chain of command about the improvements made in those barracks."

The renovations did not only address immediate problems, but also helped planners to prepare for future barracks upgrade projects.

"It helped us learn we can get more done in a quicker timeframe," Richardson explained.
Now the focus shifts to maintaining the standard and making sure the barracks remain mold-free.

"The plan is to sustain those areas by getting the units involved to maintain their areas through housekeeping as well as some other initiatives from DPW to help the units fight mold," Kellam said.