Navy Liberty Locker renovated and ready at Naval Support Activity Panama City
By COLLIN BREAUX | The News Herald (Tribune News Service) | Published: January 27, 2018
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY PANAMA CITY — A recreational area at Naval Support Activity Panama City where young military dive students can play video games and guitars has undergone renovations.
The Liberty Locker — which has air hockey and Foosball tables, a coffee maker and massage chairs — underwent improvements starting in July. The lounge held a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting in January after renovations, which include new walls for TV screens and electrical outlets.
"We renovated the lights. We pulled out all the wiring," locker director Monique Williams said. "This used to be a bowling center. ... Now we can lower the lights according to the program, if they're watching a movie. This is going to be great for the Super Bowl."
The locker is geared toward young "single or unaccompanied" dive students or other base personnel — generally guys in their early 20s or so — as a safe alternative to going out drinking or getting in trouble. But the sailors also like to come study or relax in the massage chairs.
The locker is under the base's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) department. MWR fleet readiness director Brian Connors said the locker was changed from a bowling center in the early 2000s since bowling wasn't popular.
"We gutted the bowling center and took out all the lanes and had one big open room," Connors said. "We called it a recreation center. So in the past several years, the single sailor program has grown and expanded within the Navy, so we saw a need to address the facility here."
There's no cost for sailors who want to hang out there, and the "home away from home" averages 25 to 30 people during the week and up to 60 or 70 during the weekend.
"It keeps them occupied," Williams said. "And it keeps them close to where they stay."
And for the future Jimmy Pages, there's even a wall of guitars for practice and a soundproof music room.
"A lot of the guys are very talented. We have someone that comes in for our leisure skills on the weekends and teaches them how to play guitar," Williams said. "We also have a recording system, so he teaches them how to use it."
The locker is open 1-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, noon to 11 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays and holidays.
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