By Laura Levering, Fort Gordon Public Affairs OfficeFebruary 16, 2017
FORT GORDON, Ga. (Feb. 5, 2017) -- After months of strategic planning and careful consideration, decisions have been made regarding Fort Gordon programs managed by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation for Fiscal Year 2017. Many of the adjustments come in the form of reductions.
Craig Larsen, DFMWR director, said each was done in an effort to save money in some activities in order to help others survive.
Topping the list of business plan adjustments is the Fort Gordon Run Series. The series will continue and participation is free, but patrons will be charged $10 if they want a T-shirt and an additional $5 if they want to be timed. Larsen said the biggest expense associated with the run series is the timing piece, which has cost MWR nearly $200,000 due to renting from a third party. By charging a small fee for T-shirts and to be timed, Larsen plans to eventually be able to purchase a timing system.
"We're going to take all of those things that are costing us money, and we're going to take them over to the best of our ability," Larsen explained. "We're just trying to overcome our (non-appropriated funds) costs."
The Army 10-Miler will also continue, and DFMWR will sponsor a team to represent Fort Gordon in the annual race held in Washington D.C. However, to save money, it will send one coed team instead of two (active duty men and active duty women) teams.
Varsity basketball and softball teams have been eliminated, but intramural sports will remain.
"We're still going to do intramural because that's where we touch the most service members," Larsen said.
Effective immediately, Gordon Fitness Center has cut its hours back by two; a change that Larsen said was helpful budget-wise but hardly noticeable to patrons. Instead of being open from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m., the facility is now open 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.
"We were above the standard operating hours, which are 92, and by bringing them to this, we're back in compliance," Larsen said. "With 92 hours, we were over-delivering."
Child, Youth and Services will conduct fewer field trips, and Fort Gordon's Dinner Theatre will see fewer productions this year. Shows will go on, but on a smaller scale.
"There are some huge productions out there that we've spent so much money on just in set building and costumes," Larsen said. "We are still doing some of those, but not the number that we did in previous years."
Perhaps the most visible change, Gordon Catering and Conference Center has eliminated its lunch line after losing an estimated $175,000 last year. The center's catering services is instead focusing its resources on the MWR Food Truck, which is being used to support FMWR catered events. Patrons can still stop by GCCC for lunch "to go," where AAFES contracted food trucks offer food for purchase Monday through Friday.
Positions within three different programs have also been eliminated: the Fort Gordon Dinner Theatre manager, SKIES director, and Kids on Site coordinator.
"The programs still exist," Larsen said. "We're just covering them in a different way."
If talk of cuts have you wondering about the future of MWR, Larsen said there's little reason to worry. He and other officials are working closely together to bring about positive changes to an ever-evolving community.
Larsen is currently pushing for an MWR Rewards Program he thinks will serve as an incentive to get out and support more of the programs on Fort Gordon.
"We want to give MWR customers a key fob so every place that you do business with us, get a service, or buy a product, you earn points," he said.
Those points will be good towards purchasing MWR items and services.
To make things more convenient for outdoorsmen, the Army is developing an "iSportsman" app that will allow people to sign in and out of locations at the touch of their phone.
"The big thing this is going to do is people will no longer have to go to our sign-in station over there on Range Road before they go out and fish or hunt or cycle the route," Larsen said.
In an effort to better reach the community, MWR is teaming up with Beasley Broadcasting to produce 30-second commercials that will be broadcast on local radio and television.
With all the changes and events on the horizon, it can be hard to keep up with what's happening. Larsen encourages patrons to stay connected by subscribing to MWR texts. Simply text "MWR1" to "55411," and follow the prompts.
"It's a gentle reminder to direct people back to our website," Larsen said. "We're doing a lot of work to update it and make it more relevant."