Facebook town hall reaches out to community

Garrison leaders engage in communication and coordination activities throughout the 90-minute Facebook town hall on Jan. 12. (Photo by Ganesa R. Robinson)

Fielding questions from the community, Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard led garrison leaders in his first Facebook town hall meeting on Jan. 12 at the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office.

Questions ranged from construction at the Rockenbach Road gate, speeding in school zones and the issuing of bike gate cards to concerns about potholes and the waiting list for child care at the post’s Child Development Centers.

“I think it’s important to tell the public as much as we know when we know it,” Rickard said. “Even if it’s not good news, it’s news that they can use to make their lives better.”

The 90-minute town hall was coordinated by Garrison Public Affairs Officer Chad Jones and members of the public affairs staff.

Agencies represented at the town hall included the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Directorate of Emergency Services; Directorate of Public Works; Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; Installation Safety Office; and the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate.

Representatives from Corvias Military Living and leaders from Kimbrough Ambulatory Care Center took part as well.

“This was very effective,” said Lt. Col. Seamus Garrett, director of the DES. “We love to get feedback from the community. It’s a way to improve all of our systems and services, and get a holistic view of the community.”

Martha McClary, director of DFMWR, said the town hall is a way for her to get confirmation on concerns that her staff is already aware of.

“This reinforces those concerns and provides us with the opportunity to become informed about new concerns in the community,” she said.

Rickard said he was pleased with the quality of the questions posed by the community.

“I’m impressed with the sentiment of the questions,” he said. “They were serious and thoughtful.”

Rickard said he hopes the town hall reassures the Fort Meade community that the garrison and its leaders are sensitive to their concerns.

“We’re listening,” he said. “It’s our job to listen and to act when we can. And if we can’t act, [we will continue] to keep the community informed.”

For those questions not addressed, the garrison followed up within 24 hours to furnish up-to-date responses to community members.

“We will continue to use every available avenue to communicate the garrison command’s thoughts and decisions to all stakeholders,” Jones said. “Facebook town halls will continue to be a part of that effort.”

Garrison leaders review Facebook town hall questions as they appear online and provide responses to several postings and comments submitted by community members. (Photo by Ganesa R. Robinson)
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