Q: (Col. Spangenthal) Does the Commander actually answer these e-mails or are they answered by his staff?
A: Yes, I do answer them, but will need the assistance of my team from time to time to ensure you get the best response.
Q: Sir, With the South Gate now open, I was hopeful that this gate would be open to base workers. I live out that way and have to pass the south gate before I get to the main gate to gain access to the base. What is the reason that only commercial and pass required traffic is allowed to enter the base through this newly renovated base entrance? Is there a way to allow early morning traffic through this entrance? Prior to 0700 or 0730?
A: Great question. The South Gate will be open for outbound traffic starting 21 Oct. from 0600 to 1800. All inbound traffic will still proceed as normal through the vehicle search area before entering the installation. Thanks again for your question.
Q: Why does the AF categorize e-cigarettes as a tobacco product, and why do e-cigarette smokers have to stand in a designated tobacco use area on base? They are not a cigarette, they do not have any tobacco in them, they do not produce smoke and they are not carcinogenic. E-cigarettes are cheaper than any of those items, cleaner, less offensive, no second hand smoke, no smell and just as effective if not better as a method for cutting back and quitting smoking. I and many others have taken the steps to quit smoking. I know that e-cigarettes will not be fully embraced by the Air Force and that is not what I'm wanting. It's been 3 weeks since I've switched over from cigarettes to my vapor stick (e-cigarette), and I feel great. I am now a non-smoker. What I would like to see is a little more leeway on where the vapor sticks (e-cigarettes) are able to be used, and maybe AFI 40-102 adjusted.
A: Several weeks ago I asked my staff to research e-cigarettes following several questions and an article in the Altus Times. As you correctly stated, AFI 40-102 prohibits tobacco use on AF installations, except in in DTAs (Designated Tobacco Areas) and housing units. That definition includes e-cigarettes, water pipes, and smokeless tobacco such as chew. My understanding is that the AFI has been challenged in regards to e- cigarettes and the Federal Service Impasse Panel (a federal labor board) sided with the Air Force to continue banning the use of e-cigarettes in accordance with the AFI. The Panel stated, "there is no scientific evidence conclusively addressing whether the vapor emitted by electronic cigarettes could harm others." Thus, there is little I can do at this point to address your situation besides recommending a discussion with your leadership regarding flexibility in your breaks to utilize the DTA when other smokers are not present. Thanks for your question and congratulations on your progress towards quitting smoking.
Q: When talking to neighbors and friends that live on base, this was brought up in our conversation. We noticed signs that were posted in both the Club and Charlie's about supervision of your children. Yes, I do feel there is a lack of this in our base facilities and hope the parents take note of this. The question was brought up about putting a play area for the kids over at Charlie's. I know that a lot of families like to spend time on a Friday night or Saturday and there is really no place for the kids to play other than the putting green. Is there any way we put play equipment up right outside of Charlie's?
A: Thank you for the great question. I appreciate your support of our FSS activities as we take great pride in providing a wide range of activities and facilities to support all our Airmen. The safety of our children while on base is a top priority along with ensuring we provide a good customer experience for all patrons. This can be especially challenging when children are unsupervised in and around adult oriented facilities such as club bars.
Unfortunately, installing play equipment outside Charlie's is not an option at this time. The patio area is heavily used by adult patrons and the grass area just beyond the patio is part of the putting green dedicated for use by golfers. Due to the difficult nature of maintaining a Golf Course, the putting green will continue to be for golfers only.
Additionally, in order to maximize use, Air Force playgrounds are typically located in or near community parks and housing areas. With very limited resources for these types of projects in our current fiscal environment, adding a playground near Charlie's is currently unattainable. Additionally, we are not in the position to re-locate existing playgrounds either.
I realize this may not be the answer you were hoping for but I do appreciate your suggestion and it allowed me an opportunity to look at all our options.
Q: Sir, just a quick observation about the South Gate. When you say that all traffic entering this gate must go through the vehicle search area, does that also include people (with base identification) riding bicycles?
What is the procedure for vehicles that exit the gate to go Pass & ID? Shouldn't they also be going through the vehicle search? In my eyes, I'd consider it a breach in security. After all there is a parking area on the East side of hangar 509. I know it might be inconvenient to have to walk, but then we wouldn't be allowing vehicles back on Base without being properly searched. After all, you say in your prior response that "all inbound traffic will still proceed as normal through the vehicle search area before entering the installation."
A: Dear Altus Team Member,
Currently, the south gate is exclusively a commercial vehicle and visitor gate for inbound traffic. Thus, our security practices require all commercial vehicles, visitors in privately owned vehicles & bicyclists entering the south gate to go through the vehicle search area. We do not turn away individuals who mistakenly come to the south gate. However, we will remind them about using our other gates and they will receive the same search procedures as commercial vehicles and visitors. Of note...we recently began allowing outbound traffic as a matter of convenience from 0600-1800 Monday through Friday.
For vehicles departing the south gate to visit Bldg 428 (Pass & ID), they are indeed allowed to return on base without being searched. Those vehicles have remained in positive control as they aren't permitted to go further than Bldg 428. They are still required to present their CAC or DBIDS card to the Security Forces member at the guard post upon reentry.
We are continuing to improve on these and all security processes regarding installation access and we appreciate your feedback.
Thanks again for your submission to my Commander's Corner!
Q: Can anyone tell me where the "Thrift Store" has moved to or if it is going to be reopened. I went to the Chapel Annex and the ARC and no one seems to know anything about a THRIFT STORE period. Thank you.
A: Dear Altus Team Member,
Thank you for your question. The Altus Spouse's Club Board unanimously decided to close the Thrift Store (formerly located in Building 164) due to a lack of financial viability in Aug. 2013. My understanding is that other avenues to buy and sell used items, such as Facebook pages & Altus Community Garage Sale pages, have made the Thrift Store less relevant than in the past. Unfortunately, there are no plans to re-open the Thrift Store.
The Airman's Attic, which serves a similar function on base, is still open. The Airman's Attic is located in building 116 (the Airman Resil
Q: I would like to make some suggestions to improve the base paper. At other bases I have been previously stationed at it was easy to grab a base paper and have a current listing of all the activities taking place throughout the wing. I would like to suggest we include similar info in the Altus base paper. Some examples of desired information are things like fss info, commissary hours (and closings), chapel info, base library happenings, clinic closings, as well as area attractions/happenings, etc.
Also, would it be possible to open the commissary at 8 one or two days of the week? For those of us who drop kids off at rivers it would be convenient to head over to the commissary at 8.
A: Thank you for your question and feedback. Upon arrival at Altus I asked several questions about the "Freedom Flyer" under the assumption that it was our base paper. However, I didn't realize this was actually a product of our gracious local city newspaper, the Altus Times. Fortunately for us, our Public Affairs office is able to provide weekly inputs to the Altus Times that highlight base, higher headquarters and Air Force news.
Concerning the information you suggest, we've sought additional communication avenues to include the Altus AFB website at www.altus.af.mil, the Wing Facebook page at www.facebook.com/97amw , and MyMC2, a free application for smartphones. The Force Support Squadron Marketing department also has a website and Facebook page, which includes information on all FSS facilities and activities. Their website is www.altusfss.com, and their Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/altusfss2. I think you will find these tools very useful, and easy to access. Communication is absolutely one of my top priorities and we are consistently striving to target more efficient ways to inform our multiple audiences, to include service members, families, retirees, community members, and more. I hope the communication avenues provided in this response will allow you to be more "plugged in" to Altus news and events.
As for your commissary hours suggestion, we've not been successful with "early bird" hours in the in the past. In short, the number of customers utilizing the commissary during these hours was extremely limited. Thus, we could not justify the business case to continue "early bird" hours within current budget constraints.
Q: If I may be allowed to ask sir, what might be the possibility of us civil service retired military folks once again being allowed to access the chow hall for lunch and/or dinner? During the times in the past when we could, I found the dining hall to be both enjoyable and the food pretty good. And it was at a pretty good price too. Thank you for your time.
A: Dear Team Member,
First, please accept my thanks for your question. We are always looking for ways to improve the quality of life for all our Altus team members, and I welcome the comments of our members and their families.
Unfortunately, Air Force Instructions only allow permanent party civilian members to use the enlisted dining facility if the installation commander determines other facilities, including NAF food activities and base restaurant, are not available, adequate, or readily accessible to the duty location. I have permitted DoD civilians to eat the midnight meal at the Solar Inn Dining Facility because other facilities are not readily available.
Additionally, I have chosen to invite any military retirees and their immediate families to join us at the Solar Inn for the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. At this time, however, civilians are not permitted to eat normal breakfast, lunch, and dinner meals at the Solar Inn because other options are readily available on base and in close proximity downtown.
Please continue to raise any ideas you have for improving on-base dining options, as your innovative, valuable thinking improves life for all our team members. Thank you again for your submission to my Commander's Corner!
Q: Sir, A rumor has been circulating among the officer ranks that only "school selects" are going to be offered jobs on the wing staff in the future. Is this true and could this drive animosity from officers who are not "school selects" but are still working hard at Altus AFB? Thank you for addressing this rumor.
A: I appreciate this question as it provides an opportunity to discuss why and how we hire individuals at the group and wing.
First, the wing and groups will continue to need assistance from squadron personnel to effectively operate.
Second, the process of selection is simple. We need the right people in the right jobs. Thus, squadron commanders recommend their personnel for key billets at the group and wing levels to include why these are the right people for the jobs. For instance, we need specific expertise in some jobs. Additionally, the timing of upcoming promotion boards, school selection boards and special programs, in relation to each Airman's timing, greatly impacts the selection process. Therefore, simply selecting "school selects" would not only limit the number of individuals available at the wing, it would prevent the wing and groups from utilizing one of our best methods to push our "candidates" for school & other programs while also improving the overall operation of our wing and groups.
Bottom line: There is no merit to this rumor and we will continue to offer great opportunities to both school candidates and school selects in order to place the right people in the right jobs.
Thanks again for the question.
Q: Good afternoon sir. I work over in the TOPA office at the clinic and our office was just wondering WHEN (positive thinking, sir) Altus wins the CINC Award, what will that award money go towards? If this is still yet decided, will the Airmen have a say? My office has been talking and we would like to make a recommendation for an indoor (or enclosed) track. With the winds of Oklahoma whipping through the air and wind waivers having to be utilized we all were thinking that this may be a wonderful idea for Altus. Thank you in advance.
A: Dear Altus Team Member,
Awesome idea and way to think outside the box! Unfortunately, I still don't think we will have enough money to build an indoor track with our winnings WHEN (positive thinking is a force multiplier!) Team Altus wins the 2014 Commander-In-Chief's Installation Excellence Award. However, all our
outstanding Airmen will definitely have the opportunity to provide inputs on how we spend our award. Regardless of where the money is eventually spent, I can promise you it will be used to support and improve the quality of life for our amazing Active Duty, Reserve, and Civilian Airmen & their families...all of whom do an outstanding job of fulfilling our Mission of "Forging Combat Mobility Forces...Deploying Airman Warriors." Thanks for your question. Sincerely, Col S
Q: Sir, first off thank you for your time on opening the south gate up. Just Wondering if there is any way the gym could be opened at 4am or 4:30. I Know they tried 3 am for a while guess not enough people came. Just makes it kind of hard to work out and be at work by 7. Sometimes it's real crowded. I Know you're busy and thanks for your service to the country.
A: Dear Altus Team Member,
Thank you for your question. Based on historical customer demand and facility use, the current Fitness Center hours are 0500-2400 M-F and 0800-2300 Sat-Sun. However, we are in the proces
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