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All Air Force Enlisted Village residents are now on 1 campus

SHALIMAR, Fla. (Tribune News Service) — There's nothing quite like a brand new home for the holidays.

For Edith Gibb, that new home is located in Village 5, the newest section of Bob Hope Village in Shalimar.

“I was one of the first people to move over from Teresa Village,” said Gibb, who lost her husband, Master Sgt. Keith Gibb, around four years ago. “My kids tell me this was the best decision I've ever made.”

In August 2013, the Air Force Enlisted Village in Florida, which operates Bob Hope Village, sold its Teresa Village apartment complex in Ocean City to a private developer for $3.9 million.

The sale marked the beginning of the end of an era for the non-profit, which provides affordable housing for enlisted military retirees, spouses and widows. Teresa Village was the first property owned by AFEV, which later built its Bob Hope Village complex on several acres in Shalimar.

At the time of the sale, 168 AFEV residents were living at Teresa Village, which was built in 1962 and purchased by the non-profit in 1975. The late Jim Binnicker, who was CEO of the AFEV at the time, made an agreement with the new owner to allow the residents to stay in their apartments until Village 5 was completed.

For residents like Gibb and her neighbors, Tom and Mary Walpole, the new 96-unit facility was worth the wait. They and other Teresa Village residents were given the opportunity to make many suggestions during the planning process for Village 5, which celebrated the completion of its first units in late July.

“They (the AFEV administrators) really bent over backwards to accommodate us,” Gibb said. “They incorporated many of our ideas.”

The result is a three-story complex that, unlike Teresa Village, is ADA-compliant and built with senior citizens in mind.

“Everything is so nice and new,” Gibb said. “I have a nice dining area in the kitchen, and an extra half bath for guests. The patios are spacious, and I love having my washer and dryer in my unit, rather than going to the laundry room.”

She and the Walpoles are looking forward to the opening of their neighborhood's new community center.

“All of us at Teresa Village were like one big family,” Tom Walpole said. “That's one thing we miss, having that gathering place. It will be great when it opens.”

Walpole, who served in the Air Force for 20 years as a C-130 flight engineer, said he was reluctant at first to move from the farm he and Mary owned in Texas.

“I told him that this is what I wanted to do, and he could come along if he liked,” Mary said with a laugh. “I think we all agree that this was a great move for us.”

- “It's great being in a community with other military people,” Tom conceded. “We didn't have any neighbors who were military out in Texas.”

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©2015 the Northwest Florida Daily News
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