Korea Area IV residents get chance to speak up about services, base issues
February 18, 2005
PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The Army’s commander in southern Korea is making full use of “town hall” community meetings to hear the community’s needs, a spokesman said.
Col. Donald J. Hendrix, commander of the Area IV Support Activity in Taegu, has held two such meetings since he took command in August and has two more scheduled in coming weeks.
“That probably equals what we’ve had in the previous two years,” said support activity spokesman Kevin Jackson.
The unit oversees the day-to-day upkeep and running of Army installations in southeastern Korea, including camps Henry, Walker and George in Taegu; Camp Carroll in Waegwan, and Camp Hialeah in Pusan.
Hendrix’s emphasis on community meetings reflects “basically his efforts to partner with the community and his information outreach program,” said Jackson. Attending each meeting with Hendrix are representatives of key community services, who can present information and field audience questions. Among services represented, Jackson said, are the base medical, dental and veterinary departments; military police and provost marshal; legal office; post exchange and commissary; and Taegu American School on Camp George.
Upon arrival, audience members are handed a printed questionnaire and invited to fill it out.
One recent questionnaire asked, “How can we improve CYS to better meet your needs?” — a reference to the Child and Youth Services organization that operates after-school and other programs for youth.
Responses included suggestions for more homework help for students, more job opportunities for community teens and more programs for elementary and high school students that would allow for family participation. Ideas included plays, concerts, comedy shows, piano lessons and ceramics, Jackson said.
A Nov. 10 meeting drew about 175 people, he said. Family housing, force-protection measures and volunteer opportunities were the main topics.
“It was just jam-packed,” the spokesman said.
The second meeting, Jan. 6, drew about 90 people. It was “geared toward parents with school-age children,” Jackson said.
Another meeting, set for Feb. 28, will focus on the needs of single and unaccompanied soldiers; one planned for March 7 is to be geared to family issues.
“They’ve been very helpful,” said Cyndi Bisacre, wife of an Army officer in Taegu. “The ability to tell what the problem is and then actually see the solution has been very beneficial.”
For example, a complaint at the first town-hall meeting was that a bush had been obscuring motorists’ views at Camp Walker’s post exchange parking lot.
“And the next morning they were out there cutting it down,” Bisacre said, laughing, “so that actually got a lot of people excited: ‘Wow, he is serious about this.’”
Said Jackson: “It’s the one real opportunity that people have for face-to-face interface with the commander and the other service organizations from the community. ... We’re able to get feedback, and that’s really important to Col. Hendrix as the commander here.”