By Eric Pilgrim | Fort Knox NewsMarch 1, 2019
(Editor's Note: The following is an update to a story originally posted March 1, 2019.)
The second of two housing listening sessions was held in Fort Knox's Waybur Theater March 4 to capture on-post residents' questions and concerns.
Although the total attendance was about 30 fewer than the March 1 session, a wider range of topics was discussed. Fort Knox leaders welcomed the approximately 80 people who attended and encouraged them to take whatever time they needed to voice their concerns.
"If you have problems here tonight, come to the floor," said Maj. Gen. John Evans Jr., Fort Knox commanding general. "I want to make sure that we're addressing those for you and getting after those problems so that you and your families can live here safely and comfortably at Fort Knox."
After a brief introduction, Evans opened the floor for those in attendance to address their issues.
One issue that rose to the forefront was the problem of fall leaves and downed limbs from the November 2018 ice storm that still litter the ground in some housing areas. One lady compared her Fort Knox experience with a previous duty station at Fort Drum, New York, where she said they kept the installation beautiful.
"I've not seen that here post-wide and it's kind of sad in a way," she said. "With all the headquarters here, I feel like this is the model. We should be the example."
Fort Knox Garrison Commander Col. Pat Kaune agreed with her, stating that he too had been stationed at Fort Drum.
"Ma'am, what you described is unacceptable and I'm sorry you've had the experience you had," said Kaune. "For anybody that has experienced calling three or four times and not getting the problem corrected, it's just not right."
Kaune said he plans to personally address her issues soon with Knox Hills.
One resident voiced concerns about lead-based paint remediation being stalled, suggesting that Knox Hills hasn't provided updates. Kaune explained why the winter weather conditions have caused the temporary pause. He said there is no immediate threat to residents, but also asked that the resident get with the Ireland Army Health Clinic staff.
"In the last 10 years, there's been one case of lead issues, but that child lived in Meade County," Kaune said. If ever you have a concern, though, go to Ireland Army Health Clinic to have your kid tested."
Another resident was dissatisfied with having to pay a separate monthly fee to rent a fence when fences are already included at homes in other on-post neighborhoods.
Phil Wrobel, project director at Knox Hills, explained that fencing in what they call legacy homes will be phased in eventually but in the interim, fence rentals are available through the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.
An historic district resident voiced displeasure at maintenance workers not being committed to performing quality work with respect to preserving her home's historic features. She cited an example of workers spray painting a fireplace in her house with overspray getting on the home's original wood floors.
Two tenants from geo-bachelor accommodations on post reported bug issues that they said haven't been adequately resolved, and they voiced how frustrated they are that their mold concerns aren't being taken seriously.
"We'll get that checked -- fumigation, replace the carpet," said Evans. "Whatever we have to do, we'll get that fixed."
A couple voiced several complaints regarding their residence, to include plumbing, pest control, and grounds maintenance issues, many of which they said they felt compelled to fix themselves.
A number of residents also voiced concerns with a lack of attention paid to grounds maintenance.
During the March 1 session, which lasted nearly an hour, 15 of the approximately 110 people who attended voiced their concerns on such subjects as roads and plumbing. Terenas spoke to several residents about how important it was that every resident have a safe, healthy and quality residence.
"It doesn't matter if it's a private or if it's the commanding general of the installation ... the houses are all worth the same," said Terenas. "It's the standard of living that we need and should expect for all the Soldiers, no matter the rank on this installation."
Like the second session, several residents in the first session prefaced their concerns with praise to the leadership and Knox Hills for the job they are doing to provide quality housing.
"Living here at Fort Knox provides an exceptional value for the money," said one resident. "I fully appreciate the tremendous security factor that we have here. Fort Knox is the ultimate gated community."
Recent news that the Department of the Army has temporarily suspended the RCI Energy Conservation Program as of March 1 generated the first set of questions. Under the suspension, housing officials will no longer generate utility usage bills, to include credits and refunds. Instead, residents will receive mock bills that will reflect only their monthly usage.
Some voiced concerns that this change will no longer encourage residents to conserve energy.
"[Defense and Army leaders] have decided to reevaluate the program," said Wrobel. "That's out of our control. This program will be re-delegated, and there will be some specs coming down in the future; we don't know when."
Other concerns raised by residents included the need for Knox Hills to address maintenance issues and repairs on the first visit on matters like clogged dryer vents, dishwasher malfunctions, insect control, tile repair and plumbing.
Some residents offered suggestions for potential fixes.
One resident commended Knox Hills' efforts in devising an engineering solution to his basement flooding problem but suggested that prospective residents be allowed to view maintenance records prior to moving in for a better understanding of problems with the residence. Speeding in housing areas brought a resident to the microphone to suggest emplacement of speed bumps.
Another resident described several issues she had in her previous residence at Oak Park before moving to Chestnut Glen. In response, Kaune highlighted some recent changes that will provide residents with additional ways to mitigate problems.
"We are well postured to be immediately responsive," said Kaune.
One of the initiatives is an on-call 24/7 leadership hotline - (502) 624-1160 - that went live Feb. 25 to provide residents a way to relay housing concerns to leaders.
"If concerns by residents haven't been addressed by our housing partner, they can call us," said Kaune.
Kaune said another effective avenue for getting leadership assistance comes in the form of Interactive Customer Evaluation, or ICE, comments.
ICE feedback is a way for Fort Knox residents to rate services and support they have received. When a service is rendered, residents who are unsatisfied can send feedback through an ICE link at the Fort Knox website: www.knox.army.mil.
"I review all the ICE comments that come my way," said Kaune.
A resident expressed frustration with several plumbing and other issues that she described as being small but enough to make her not feel proud to invite friends over. Evans asked her to come down after the meeting to capture all of them so maintenance crews can get them fixed.
"The expectation should be that everything in your house works to standard," said Evans. "If that's not happening, then it's unacceptable, and we will fix that."
During both events, Evans mentioned at the start of each that part of the initiative to address residents' issues is a visit by unit leaders to every active-duty service member's residence in the Fort Knox footprint. While residents are not required to have a leader in their home, according to Evans, leaders are required to provide an opportunity for residents to voice their concerns.
To date, hundreds of homes have been visited by Fort Knox leaders.