Facebook town hall responds to community concerns

During the Facebook town hall , Lt. Col. Jay Birmingham (left), deputy garrison director of transformation; Chad Jones, public affairs officer; and Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard review a Facebook post from the Fort Meade community. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

The Fort Meade garrison held its first Facebook Town Hall meeting for the year on Jan. 17.

The 90-minute meeting was facilitated by Garrison Commander Col. Tom Rickard and the Fort Meade Public Affairs Office in the PAO conference room.

“It is important for the garrison and garrison commander to listen to the community and provide information and answer the community’s questions,” Rickard said.

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Brian S. Cullen and Deputy Garrison Commander John Moeller also participated in the town hall.

DES Director Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson, Mary Doyle, director of media relations at Fort Meade, and Staff Judge Advocate Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith discuss an issue. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

Representatives from several directorates participated as well. They included: Lt. Col. Jay Birmingham, deputy garrison commander for transformation; Lt. Col. Jeffrey Knudson, director of the Directorate of Emergency Services; Lt. Col. Tyesha Smith, staff judge advocate; Kirk Fechter, director of the Garrison Safety Office; Scott Myer, acting director of the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation; Ben Loney, chief of plans and operations for the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security; and Aimee Stafford, lead development and operations specialist in the housing division at the Directorate of Public Works.

Staff members from Corvias Military Living — J.C. Calder, operations director; Christine Taylor, resident manager; and David Campbell, director of maintenance — also addressed concerns.

The Fort Meade public affairs staff fielded questions posted by community members on the Fort Meade Facebook page. Garrison leaders answered the questions live on Facebook from the PAO conference room.

Thirty-seven questions were handled by the command staff. One question was posted by a member of the command staff.

“This type of event allows us to get a feel of the temperature of the community and where their concerns lie. …,” Stafford said. “It also is a great forum to coordinate answers with various experts where concerns may cross over multiple agencies or directorates.”

Myer said town halls help the garrison’s leadership make better informed decisions.

“High-performing organizations are always looking at continuous improvement,” he said. “The best way to know where you need to improve is through feedback — both positive and negative.”

Issues raised by community members ranged from heating in Corvias housing to daycare at the Child Development Centers and post traffic.

Chad Jones, Fort Meade’s public affairs officer, said concerns that could not be addressed during the town hall would be addressed within the following two days.

Rickard said the creation of the Fort Meade app has been an important resource in communicating with community members in regard to emergency situations and also addressing their needs.

The app provides and collects important information to and from the community in real time, which Rickard said is invaluable.

“We’re listening to the community,” he said.

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