By Sgt. 1st Class Kap Kim, 1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsMay 20, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - It was a promised, one-hour meeting of the different Liberty Village Housing Area community leaders and its residents who packed into a cramped community center to discuss current and upcoming policy changes during their quarterly town hall meeting May 18, within Kouma Housing Area on Fort Hood, Texas.
Liberty Village Housing Area is one of the newest housing areas on Fort Hood. It's located off the main cantonment area nearest to the Clear Creek entrance.
Within the past seven months, the housing area has been privatized and was managed solely by a civilian contractor. During the past month, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's Rear Detachment, was assigned to sponsor the housing area, like every other Fort Hood housing area.
"I was very excited to learn that we were taking over this housing area ... it means that we can help better the quality of life for the residents," said 1st Sgt. Baldemar Gonzales, 4th BCT's rear detachment command sergeant major.
At times, it became difficult to uphold the Fort Hood Housing standards. So, they recently went back to having community life Soldiers whose sole purpose is to make sure the standards are met, said Donald Grainger, a Fort Hood housing manager.
Gonzales said he made the tough decision from many candidates to appoint Staff Sgt. Andre Thomas, a tanker assigned to 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT.
"He's the kind of person you need for this position," Gonzales of Victoria, Texas said of Thomas. "He truly cares for Soldiers and family members and is impartial."
Thomas, of Hampton, Va., said he was chosen to enforce standards and that's exactly what he plans on doing. With that, he added that he and his staff are approachable and are there to help the residents.
During the town hall, Thomas introduced himself and reiterated that every Fort Hood resident was given a copy of Fort Hood Regulation 210-48, Installation Housing Community Standard, and he told the residents to become familiar with it. The 64-page, easy read, is dated November 2003. Sgt. Maj. Barbara Mitchell, the Fort Hood Housing sergeant major, said there is a proposed version waiting the Fort Hood Garrison commander's and Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch's signatures.
Even though there seems to be a lot of different rules to living on post, Sarah Camacho, a new Liberty Village resident, she said she appreciates the effort housing officials and the Army makes to better the community.
"I don't mind all the rules," she said. "I think they try to give us a safer place to live and are concerned about our living conditions."
Camacho's 6-year-old daughter, Skylee, who also attended the meeting, said she didn't really care too much about the meeting and was happy that the housing area recently built a new playground near her house.
During the town hall, the village mayor introduced a community police officer, an Animal Protection officer, and an Army Community Service rep.
Village residents also received an opportunity to ask tough questions such as, "what constitutes as my yard' In terms of how much grass needs to be mowed," to "who is responsible if someone comes to pet my dog through my fence and my dog bites them'"
They also discussed plans for the upcoming Spring Cleanup and community activities such as movie night and block parties.
For residents such as Sgt. Daniel Olsen, of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), of Pittsburgh, and his wife Lindsey, attending a quarterly housing meeting is a small price to pay for living on Army housing.
"It's wasn't a bad meeting," Lindsey said. "I like that it's close to post; it's not right on post, but not too close either. Living here, we can enjoy the free time the Army gives you."
Liberty Village residents can call Staff Sgt. Andre Thomas, the Community Life noncommissioned officer-in-charge, at (254) 287-6961 or email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.