SCHINNEN, Netherlands - USAG Schinnen now boasts a fully refurbished launderette with ten new dryers, four high-capacity washing machines, and new furnishings -- the result of an $115,000 effort between the garrison and AAFES to restore the facility put out-of-commission by a fire June 8, 2009.

The fire was extinguished June 8 by USAG Schinnen Military Policemen Sgt. Alexander Berger and Sgt. Craig D. Kosobucki. After they were notified of the fire, they alerted first responders then ran from the garrison's MP Station to the launderette where they found the means and opportunity to extinguish the fire.

Their actions spared more severe damage to the launderette and to the adjacent AAFES Food Court, Shoppette, Main Exchange and garrison headquarters facilities on USAG Schinnen.

It's been said that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone. The inconvenience to Soldiers and families moving in or out of the community and to many faithful customers who depended on the launderette was significant to say the least.

Customers were referred to facilities on a NATO Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany, but the added drive made their laundry day longer. Local coin operated launderettes frustrated many because European-style machines, with washing and drying cycles much longer than U.S. models, required customers to arrive at local civilian facilities two hours before closing time to ensure they could finish a single load of laundry.

There was pressure to pursue a quick fix, but a history of electrical problems with the dryers, the condition of the facility after the fire, and the old plumbing and electrical infrastructure prompted the garrison commander, Lt. Col. Fern O. Sumpter, to pursue wiping the slate clean and starting new.

"Safe facilities for our customers and protecting property are obviously top priorities, and so is having a facility commensurate to our customer's service to the Nation. Too much was at stake to simply patch up the dryers and hope that the plumbing and electrical structure would hold out. I know it was painful to go without a launderette for six months, but now we have a new facility that is safe and will serve our community for years to come," Sumpter said.

"I'd like to thank the entire community for their patience. We're very excited about having the reconstruction of the launderette come to an end. The new design allows more room to relax while doing laundry and I know the brand new, high capacity washers will be very popular with our customers. Over $35,000 was spent by AAFES for new equipment in the launderette," said Rob McMillan, Schinnen's AAFEs Store Manager.

A television and a big three-pane window was also installed in the new facility. The new launderette on USAG Schinnen is open 24/7.