Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Here it is, almost 6 years later and no privatized housing at Eglin. As a former Military Housing Director, I can tell you this is no surprise. I have briefed a number of folks on this issue and warned them, “this was going to be a long drawn out process”. I have lived this in my professional life in the military and it does not come easy. A number of things have changed and our area will make it hard. First, the military culture does not want to live on base, as per a housing study of military families; Secondly, there will be no mandatory assignment to military housing anymore, so developers would not have a capture audience. This would be hard in our area, where the desirability of living off base is high; and Thirdly, the need for housing units has recently dropped in our area from 2750 housing units to about 960 units. These first few issues will alone make it difficult. Also, like I told many, no military housing will be in Mossyhead, or near Crestview. It just doesn’t make sense. I can bore you with many details, if you would like. I am only a phone call away. Do I tell you, I not only a former Military Housing Director, I am also a former resident of Eglin AFB Base Housing.


More hearings set for privatized AF housing
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4443 mmoore@nwfdailynews.com
EGLIN AFB — The Air Force scheduled the next round of public hearings for a proposed housing project that would allow private contractors to build, manage and rent housing to military families on land leased from the Air Force. Public hearings for the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 11 and 12 at the Mattie Kelly Arts Center at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville and the Fort Walton Beach Municipal Auditorium respectively. In 1996, the DOD authorized the Armed Forces to enter into agreements with private developers selected in a competitive process to own, maintain and operate family housing through 50-year leases. Air Force-wide, more than 40,000 homes were privatized in the program’s first 13 years. Though the need is clearly there, none of Eglin’s housing has been privatized. Larry Chavers, chief of environmental awareness at Eglin, said last January 88 percent of the base’s housing does not meet Air Force standards. That beats the Air Forcewide average of 60 percent of housing that needs to be renovated or replaced. “Most of our units are 30 to 50 years old and made of cinder blocks,” Chavers said. As it works to finalize the location of the new housing, Eglin already has spent $13 million on renovations to existing base housing. Since April 2005, the Air Force has made four attempts to privatize housing at Eglin and Hurlburt. The current initiative was introduced at public hearings last January with seven proposed alternatives (including doing nothing at all). Some of the choices have been eliminated because they would interfere with missions, be unsafe for residents or conflict with future plans for expansion. The eliminated choices include an area near Mossy Head; an area in Crestview; and Live Oak Terrace, an area at Hurlburt Field north of U.S Highway 98. The three current choices are to build family housing in the White Point area, on Eglin Main and in Valparaiso, or in the north Fort Walton Beach area. Past public housing initiatives met opposition with the proposed north Fort Walton Beach area. The area includes 249 acres at Camp Pinchot and 83 acres in the Poquito Bayou area. Grassroots organizations opposed building homes in those areas when the idea was introduced in 2005 and 2006. Eglin’s preferred choice is to build on Eglin Main in the southwest corner of Eglin Main Base adjacent to the “new Plew” housing area. In addition to the comments made at the public hearings, comments received by Feb. 7 will be included in the Environmental Impact Statement and taken under consideration by the Air Force. People wishing to mail comments or obtain further information should send them to: Mike Spaits, Eglin Public Affairs Office
The following is the 2011 Military Housing Allowance for Eglin AFB area for military members with dependents, as well as, last year’s numbers. This allowance is a tax-free entitlement. if you have any questions about this entitlement, please don't hesitate to give me a call

Paygrade 2011 Housing Allowance
E-1 - E-4 $1158.00
E-5 $1218.00
E-6 $1332.00
E-7 $1362.00
E-8 $1392.00
E-9 $1488.00
W-1 $1335.00
W-2 $1374.00
W-3 $1413.00
W-4 $1515.00
W-5 $1635.00
O1E $1368.00
O2E $1407.00
O3E $1533.00
O-1 $1230.00
O-2 $1329.00
O-3 $1410.00
O-4 $1683.00
O-5 $1878.00
O-6 $1899.00
O-7 $1917.00


As you will see below, the new Army Base is completed and plans are being made to move in to the base and many are already looking for homes. The word from the Army is new home construction is the preference. As I have noted many times, this group of military has a much different housing need than our traditional military being assigned to Eglin. Therefore, changes to the style, size, location, must be addressed when providing for this group of military.
Countdown begun for 7th Special Forces arrival
Work on much of Army cantonment done
December 15, 2010 11:41 AM
By John Parrott Crestview News Bulletin Military Reporter
Next year, the U.S. Army 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) cantonment west of the Duke Field will be fully manned by its new tenants. The land on which the cantonment, or installation, sits was populated by bear, deer, scrub oak and pine in March 2009 before construction on the cantonment began in earnest. The work is the culmination of four years of planning and a 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) hearing that prompted the pending relocation of the 7th Special Forces from Fort Bragg N.C. to their new home south of Crestview. Much of the work on the one-mile-square administrative complex is complete. “As you can see, all the BRAC mandated buildings are up and, in fact, nearly all of them are in the final stages of completion,” said Joey Walker, site engineer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “In some cases the only thing we are waiting on is communications hookups and paint, and of course the furniture,” said 96th Test Wing civil engineer George Newman, who is Eglin’s lead man overseeing the construction site. Plans include four 96-bed dormitories for unmarried soldiers, along with amenities such as a mini mall, outlying shops, a dining facility, a chapel and a small medical clinic. The cantonment marks the first time in the 7th Special Forces' 67-year history that facilities have been built to suit their specifications, Lt. Col. Joe Tyron, commander of engineering for the Special Forces, said in a March interview. "We've had a lot of user input from top to bottom," he said. "We're looking at a world-class facility." The 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne) includes 2,200 soldiers. The bulk of the soldiers are expected to arrive between April and September of next year. An additional 3,800 family members are expected to accompany them. “The first tenant we expect to arrive is the 3rd battalion,” Walker said. “Afterward the moves go faster and in faster stages. But I expect the 3rd to be here before summer.” It is not just the military that has been busy in advance of the move. The Okaloosa County Water and Sewer department completed in November a 14-month project to install a $5.2 million sewer system consisting of an underground lift station and nearly 17 miles of water pipe. Sewage from the base will be piped south to the county’s new Arbennie Pritchett Water Reclamation Facility in Fort Walton Beach. Officials with Okaloosa County and the city of Crestview were among a group that traveled to Fort Bragg earlier this year to help prepare the solders for their move. “We may not see the soldier that often but we will see his family,” Crestview Mayor David Cadle said. “We will shop with them, eat with them and go to church with them and they will be sending their kids to our schools.” Business leaders are also ramping up for the influx“They will also be buying or renting houses, cars and beach front property,” realtor Brett House said of the members of the 7th SFG (A). House said the Army group and Eglin Air Force Base’s allocation of 59 Joint Strike Fighters will also provide new business opportunities. “It’s no secret the 7th Special Forces and the Joint Strike Fighters are a business magnet,” House said. “In just the past few weeks we’ve had several high dollar investment inquiries, so, it is no wonder they are making statements about how this area is about to explode economically.” Unlike other services where members rotate from base to base every few years, members of the 7th SFG (A) may spend their entire military career in that one location


Okay folks, if you think the Army’s Special Forces Group is going to make an impact to the area, look out. The F-35 Training Squadron is alive and well and moving forward briskly. The permanent party folks (i.e. Instructors, Maintainers, support personnel) are coming in and beginning to set up shop. As you might know, the new By-Pass near the entrance to the gate of the Training Facility shoots straight to Crestview. I expect Senator Gaetz, who was instrumental in getting the money for this project saw the writing on the wall. If you need details on the structure of this group of folks, just give me a call. Some details of this program was released today (see below).

33rd Fighter Wing shows off progress to local officials
Mona Moore
2010-12-14 18:32:20
EGLIN AFB — A sign along Nomad Way that keeps track of the 33rd Fighter Wing’s flight training goals has read “0” for long enough. The Nomads will be flying F-16s by mid-January and training for F-35s on flight simulators in the coming months. The four F-16s will be used as fighter support aircraft. Col. David Hlatky, commander of the 33rd Fighter Wing, said pilots will sharpen their skills in the F-16s instead of jumping into the F-35s cold turkey. “We ain’t turned a wheel on this side of the base in a while … a lot of new people,” Hlatky said before briefing Okaloosa County leaders Tuesday morning. “So we need to get used to flying as a team and I’d rather do it with an airplane that we know a lot about than an airplane that we’re going to be learning some things about as we get started.” During the gradual build-up of F-35s at the base, the F-16s will serve as chaser airplanes during trainingHlatky said the F-16s will be a short-term solution. He expects they will be used for about a year. Okaloosa officials received a briefing before their tour. Hlatky said the wing has requested that flight training operations be split between Choctaw Field, Duke Field and Eglin Main. The timetable for accepting students and receiving the F-35s has not been determined. The school will train about 1,000 students a year in programs that will take between four and seven months to complete. Since the start of the Joint Strike Fighter Integrated Training Center construction, Wing officials have become seasoned tour guides, offering sneak peeks to local and national officials. “Members of our board of commissioners think of themselves as ambassadors to Team Eglin and this will help us inform others in the community,” County Administrator Jim Curry said. Construction is being completed in stages. As the base broke ground on the training center, dining facility, track, dorms and a memorial to the victims of the Khobar Towers, some of the existing buildings were repurposed into temporary classrooms and facilities for fitting pilots for new flight apparatus. One phase of the dorms has been completed. The three-story building’s 144 rooms will house 288 students. Additional dorms are expected to be included in future budgets. The tour included a peak at the Academic Training Center, the Department of Defense’s 26,000-square-foot schoolhouse for future F-35 maintainers and pilots. Hlatky said the Academic Training Center building is the size of six football fields. He compared some of the building’s secured areas to the elaborate opening sequence of the old television show “Get Smart.” The rooms that will house simulators and classified pilot classrooms include a series of security systems, corridors and locked doors. Even doors to stairwells have security codes. The tour also included a look at the dining facility and the 58th Fighter Squadron’s operations building. County Commissioner Bill Roberts said he was impressed by the university campus atmosphere. The training center, dining facility and dorms were designed to provide that atmosphere and were built within walking distance of each other. “I think it’s going to be such a special atmosphere for the guys,” Roberts said. “It’s just going to make it more enjoyable for them.” For all of the progress the 33rd Fighter Wing has made, “the wow factor” actually is the team of JSF training instructors and administrators that has spent months working to prepare the school for future students, according to Hlatky. Representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines have come together for the same goal. “It’s noses to the ground. It’s meetings at 10 at night. It’s working and traveling Sundays so you can get the only Monday morning appointment that person has available,” Hlatky said. “That’s the wow factor.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


As reported, Okaloosa and Walton Counties continue to remain at the top of the heap when it comes to educating our students and just another reason, why folks flock to our area. Great job by the school districts and wish continued success.

Area high schools see boost in grades
Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4440 ktammen@nwfdailynews.com  
Almost every local high school met or exceeded new state standards used to calculate school grades. The Florida Department of Education released the results Tuesday morning that now base school grades on student performance in several areas in all grade levels rather than just FCAT scores. “It’s a very comprehensive, intensive set of criteria that are in place this year,” said Guyla Hendricks, Okaloosa County’s curriculum coordinator. In both Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties, the high schools earned four A grades and two B grades. “I think we knocked it out of the park,” said Santa Rosa County Superintendent Tim Wyrosdick. “It just validates what we’ve been doing.” The district saw its greatest improvement at Milton High School, which raised its grade from a D to an A. Okaloosa County saw a similar improvement at Choctawhatchee High School. The Fort Walton Beach school went from a C to an A. “I’ve never been prouder of a group of people,” said Choctaw Principal Cindy Gates. She said the improvement was the result of 16 months of hard work by teachers, students, parents and administrators. In addition to encouraging more collaboration between teachers, the school identified students who were struggling and worked with them on an individual basis. “It wasn’t just about the school grade, it was that we wanted to make sure our students were where they needed to be,” Gates said. The new criteria for rating high schools is intended to ensure just that. In addition to FCAT scores, the new system looks at how many students are taking accelerated courses, such as Advanced Placement and dual enrollment; college readiness, based on scores on the SAT or the ACT; and graduation rates. The change is part of a national trend to streamline high school education across the country and at the same time raise the bar for students. “Research has shown … raising the rigor results in a greater opportunity for success for the students,” Hendricks said. Schools in Walton County schools received two A grades, a C grade and a D. Superintendent Carlene Anderson couldn’t be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment. The high school grades come about four months after the release of grades for elementary and middle schools. All three districts performed well in those grade levels as well.