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FSS outlines changes to base services

Posted 4/5/2012   Updated 4/5/2012 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Olaciregui
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/5/2012 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Over the next few months, changes to base services will be taking place across the Air Force due to the Global Base Support initiatives outlined last year. Officials from the 66th Force Support Squadron have developed plans to adjust to the changes and are transforming programs and services so that they remain relevant and supportive of the Hanscom community.

Areas that base personnel will notice the most change is at the library, bowling center, Youth Programs, lodging, the Minuteman Commons and Tickets and Tours.

"Force support squadrons are changing and adapting to the 21st century," said Carolyn McCafferty, 66 FSS Operations officer. "We're working hard to make sure as many services are still available, albeit with fewer staff members."

The library, as previously reported, will transition to a Learning Resource Center. The changes will be gradual over the next few months. The facility will keep its current hours while staff are still assigned to the program. Although officials do not anticipate shutting down for a significant amount of time, customers may notice some "Pardon our Appearance" signs as items are moved around.

This transition also includes relocating the children's library to the Youth Center in May.

"We are repurposing a room, providing fresh paint along with children's library furnishings and relocating approximately 3,000 of the most popular books geared specifically to children in kindergarten and younger," said Scott Craver, Child and Youth Services flight chief.

The first Preschool Storytime to be held in the Youth Center will be May 2 at 10:15 a.m.

Although the library is changing, some things will remain the same.

"The Learning Resource Center will include public-access computers, printers, scanners and wi-fi. Professional Military Education materials will still be available, such as Chief of Staff of the Air Force reading list books, CLEP, DANTES and transparent languages," said Vic Hayes, Force Support Squadron director. "In addition, Exceptional Family Member Program material will remain and study areas for groups and individuals will be available, as well as places for tutoring sessions for students. A digital library will also remain."

Another shift will occur in the current library building when the Department of Defense-sponsored STARBASE program opens up. This science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative is scheduled to be open to local school districts beginning October 2012.

"With the transformation of library programs to a Learning Resource Center, our facility will provide the community with a more technology-based learning environment, which meets the needs of our Airmen," said Craver. "Hanscom is also fortunate to host Massachusetts's first STARBASE. The technological resources of STARBASE provide an opportunity to enhance experiences. We will soft start the program this October with our base schools and offer classes to our home school community and Youth Programs."

Volunteer opportunities at STARBASE will be available and announced in September.

To keep with the synergy of learning and students, the School Liaison Officer will relocate to the building to be more accessible for community needs.
Youth Programs
In addition to the children's library moving to the Youth Center, Youth Programs will also experience other changes. Starting with fall sports, the program will refer Hanscom youth to area towns to participate in their youth sports leagues.

"We expect registration for fall sports leagues to open up during the month of May," said Craver. "The Youth Center remains the location for Hanscom families to pick up a packet of information about area leagues."

The packet of information contains information about costs, registration deadlines, points of contact and more, according to Craver.

FSS officials also note that now there will be many more sport options for youth, such as NFL flag football, lacrosse and ice hockey for youth to play.

"The leagues and sport options are more robust than Hanscom Youth Sports can provide," said Craver.

The Start Smart program, for 3 to 5 year olds, will still be available at Hanscom. Additionally, Youth Programs plans to offer many Air Force FitFamily initiatives and more.
Bowling Center
Hanscom Lanes will remain open, however, the 13th Frame Diner will close after Memorial Day weekend. A mini-snack bar will be available for refreshments after the diner closes.

"The community can still count on bowling," said Paul Hartigan, Community Support flight chief, "and our bowling league patrons can be assured that we will still offer league play again in this fall."

Over the next year, the concept of the bowling and fitness centers will evolve into a Resiliency Center. In the current diner space, plans for an activity room are taking shape. Options for how to use this space are currently being identified, but some ideas include a space for fitness circuit training for targeted groups such as pre-teens and women only. The four pillars of resiliency will also extend into other new programs such as cooking classes, healthy eating or work/life seminars.

"We want the community's input on this," said Hartigan. "We have crafted a survey to get feedback from the base populace that will inform our planning on how the future Resiliency Center space can be used. Look for the link to the survey later this month in the Hansconian and www.HanscomServices.com."

The Commons, Lodging and Tickets and Tours
At the end of May, the lodging registration desk will move to the Minuteman Commons in the current Tickets and Tours room. Tickets and Tours will return to Building 1530 and co-locate with Outdoor Recreation.

"Much of the gift shop merchandise from Tickets and Tours, such as Boston T-shirts, hats and other souvenirs, will remain with the lodging front desk," said Meaghan Meyers, Sustainment Services Flight chief. "An expanded and improved sundry operation will be available in the new location."

Officials hope this change will be a win-win for the community, as well as guests staying at lodging.

"The Minuteman Commons will now be open 24/7," Meyers said. "This will increase access for all customers. As a bonus, lodging guests will be treated to more hotel-like amenities by being able to use The Tavern, The Den as a lounge space and take advantage of wi-fi."

Other changes
Other FSS facilities, programs and activities have had to adjust to funding reductions, as well. One example is Fourth Cliff.

"Fourth Cliff converted to a seasonal operation this past winter," Hartigan said. "Our reservationist has just returned and is taking reservations for May through November."

Interested customers can call at 800-468-9547 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday to make a reservation.

Plans for Summer Bash are also changing.

"Hosting Summer Bash takes an enormous amount of manpower to coordinate, organize and conduct in June," said Hayes. "But we will host an 'End of the Summer Bash' on Aug. 30 that will feature fireworks, live entertainment and fun for all."

In addition, Hanscom Olympics will not take place in May.

The base parks will have very limited trash removal and no maintenance until summer hires come on board. Outdoor Recreation is taking reservations of base parks on a first come, first served basis.

To keep with the latest information about FSS changes, visit their website regularly at www.HanscomServices.com.

Editor's Note: This is the first article in a series explaining changes to base services. Look for articles in the coming weeks that will contain more specific information about facilities and programs.

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