Camp Humphreys’ Town Hall Summary from Wednesday, February 22, 2017
I went to my first Humphreys’ Town Hall on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 and it was a serious affair. One side of the room was lined up with representatives from the major interests on post such as AAFES, Red Cross, CYS, Department of Public Works etc. Next time I’ll try write down a list of who was actually there but every question received during the Town Hall had a representative to answer it. The Garrison Command team was extremely honest, considerate and professional but I don’t envy their jobs. This next year is going to be tough for them and everyone else here at Humphreys.
Over the next year the Humphreys garrison will receive 10,000 new personnel, this number does not include dependents. The peninsula wide move is in full swing and this summer and fall will see the biggest influx.
The garrison command team asks for everyone’s understanding since construction delays mean support facilities won’t be complete before the biggest influx of new residents like the hospital, commissary or PX. And the hiring freeze is crippling the CDC’s ability to care for persons beyond mission essential personnel.
I may or may not be here when Humphreys reaches its apex with all of the brand new facilities and services but once 2017 comes to a close this post and the surrounding town of Paengseong will be filled to capacity with new soldiers, civilians and their dependents. Never has there been a time when we need to work together and help new and old families navigate life here in Korea.
***These slides were used at the town hall meeting and were sent to me by the US Army Garrison Humphreys Facebook page. Whoever is manning their virtual desk is extremely courteous and helpful. They found the slides I asked for and got back to me by the next day, they are amazing!
Roadways and Traffic
Many roadways on-post will be complete by March 2017. The Super Gym road is all done and there are new traffic lights and circles.
The road used to get around the airfield near MP Hill and the Superhanger is closing by the end of March. All traffic can use the road through the Super Gym get around the airfield. The Pizza Hut is moving to Zoeckler Station and will be up and running before the road closes.
The access control that goes straight to 45 will be open by July.
The red and blue line will be privatized on March 1st and April 1st. This change means more buses and will reduce the wait times from 30 minutes to 15. Units are allowed to sign out buses if in need.
Clarification for shuttle buses and PoV’s: If a bus stops in the road to load or unload passengers then all vehicles must stop in all directions. If a bus pulls off into a designated loading zone then vehicles can pass. The US Army Garrison Humphreys Facebook page has an album with the most up to date bus schedules for the blue, green and red lines.
The Humphreys’ Veterinary Clinic and Pets
I really feel for our new veterinarian and this extremely stressful situation that she’s in. Currently she does not have enough trained staff, medication or time to perform procedures on civilian pets until after the exercise is over in March. Every time someone asked her a question at the town hall you could see the stress in her face. I’ve heard nothing but good things about their care for family animals but they just don’t have the time or resources to see everyone’s pets.
The Humphreys’ Veterinary clinic is making appointments for general care of non-military working animals by phone through their front desk and they will have more resources after the exercise in March. If you call and no one picks up this is because of the ongoing troubles with no call-waiting in Korea. If after six rings no one picks up then call again in 5-10 minutes. Constant ringing means that the front desk is busy with another caller, no one is being ignored. The vet assured us that someone is always manning the desk during clinic hours.
The current Veterinary clinic hours are Mon-Wed 0930-1600 and Fri 0930-1500. Wednesdays are procedure days so they will be extra busy and Thursdays are training days. 0503-337-9815
In the Meantime:
South Korea surprisingly has amazing animal care. This country is relatively new at having pets for pleasure rather than work but they took after their western counterparts and have very similar care and procedures. And I always walk out of a vet appointment feeling like my wallet wasn’t robbed. General examinations and vaccinations in Korea are much cheaper here than the states but surgeries will be about the same price or higher.
Dog Poop Woes
I don’t even know how to broach this topic, I don’t think there is any way to do this delicately. Residents not picking up their dog’s feces in on-post housing is a problem that plagues every military post across the world and here the problem is worse because of families living so close together in high-rise apartment towers. If just five people don’t pick up the poop of their 60lb animal then that’s 3 piles a poop a day times 5 for at least 6 months out of the year when the weather is too cold to be bothered. It only takes a few people to make an entire community jump at each other’s throats through social media and to create a negative residential area.
During the town hall meeting, all dog poop questions were ignored after the first two times it was asked. I know there were many more questions asking what can be done to stop it and no one really had an answer. The garrison command team asked everyone to be good and to take responsibility for themselves and their pets.
In the Meantime:
- Report all violations to the housing office and send in ICE comment cards.
- Try to resolve this as a community. Easier said than done, right? With families coming and going every month, on-post housing residents have a tough time of creating a lasting community. But a healthy community can move oceans and it only takes a few dedicated people to make a huge difference.
- Through social media create a group who are interested in improving life in on-post housing. A group for venting and negativity will only perpetuate that mentality. Try to look at the positives and see the negatives as problems to be solved.
- Pick up an extra poop pile when you walk the dogs. Punishing the perpetrators has not worked in the past 5+ years so let’s look at it as cleaning up the community.
- Improve the community through holiday events and contests such as best decorated springtime front door and summertime BBQ’s. An involved community is more likely to know and follow rules.
- Hand out flyers (not emails) reminding residents of basic rules including dog poop, watching children, upcoming events etc.
- Involve the kids, you’ll be surprised how much they love working together and being part of something bigger. If many residents chip in, you can reward outdoor cleaning days with icecream parties, water balloon fights etc.
- Create a dedicated method of reporting immediate problems and have persons ready to fix it. It’s not fair but it might be best to have a rotating group of people to help clean up emergency messes. I’ve seen Colonel Holland out picking up trash next to the KSB and I heard a story of the entire Garrison command team being an example and cleaning up an entire dog park. Pee in the elevator, poop on the sidewalk, kids skateboarding in the parking garage? Have flyer’s in the appropriate areas to help people report the problem via social media, texting or group Kakao and those who are available at the time can get on it. Housing can only send people out based upon their budget and a puddle of pee that sat for a day could be cleaned up in just a few minutes. Take pictures of the mess and report the problem as normal.
- I don’t know what kind of incentives are available to residents but create a contest to reward families for being good citizens. Maybe a Good Citizen’s of the quarter reward on their front door or a day pass to Splish Splash or the Bowling Alley (coming soon!) that was donated by the MWR. I’m sure the command team can swing some free passes if it means helping the on-post community.
Child Youth Services and MWR are being hit the hardest and this summer will be rough for families already here and the new families coming in.
The Child Development Center was short on employees when I moved here over a year ago and the hiring freeze is making a big problem even worse. Summer Camp in 2017 is first come first serve and priority is for single soldiers and dual military. Any new families moving to Humphreys will be added to the priority list and single soldiers and dual military will once again get bumped to the top.
In the Meantime:
- The background checks for volunteers and new employees can take months and slow down the employment process. If you are interested in working with CYS and MWR, get the background check started now while waiting for the hiring freeze to lift.
- There are a lot of off-post activities and events for families and kids. Be on the lookout in a month of two for a list of area hagwons that I will personally go interview who want new English speaking students.
Humphreys Central School
The second Humphreys’ elementary school and the middle school will be open by the new school year in August, 2017.
- Humphreys’ West is the new elementary school and it is identical to the current school, Humphreys’ Central.
- Which school your child attends will depend on the school bus pickup zones. Currently, there is no pickup across the river so before signing a lease, confirm with housing that there is a school bus stop near your new home.
Splish Splash Water Park
The Splish Splash Water park is undergoing renovations and will be open by July 1st if it is a dry spring without heavy rains. If able, the command team is pushing for the kiddy side of the park to be open by Memorial Day weekend while the pools remain closed.
In the Meantime:
- The Supergym pool is open and the CAC pool will be open by late spring.
- There are multiple spas, waterparks and beaches to enjoy in Korea.
- Sapgyoho Marine Park has a free splash pad down in the park and a small amusement ride area and animal building.
- Keep on the lookout for pop-up splash pads and water slides near the Pyeongtaek City Hall and in Asan.
- Asan Spavis and Paradise Spa Dogo offer the wonders of a Korean spa and an indoor/outdoor waterpark with foreigner and group discounts.
- After a hot day of amusement rides at Everland, enjoy the beautiful splash pad with the kids. Ask around for discounts.
- We have asked PIEF and the Merchant’s Association if there is any way to bring a popup splash pad and water slide to Anjeongri, outside of the Humphreys’ Gate. Stay tuned as we wait to hear more.
AAFES and WIC
- When using coupons, the AAFES representative encouraged all customers to carefully read the fine print. Coupons can be misleading and often it is “either/or” rather than “and.”
- There was a question on what was and wasn’t allowed under the WIC program after there was discussion on Facebook that Osan’s WIC rules are more lenient than Humphreys. The Commissary manager said that everything is bar-coded and there is no way for him or his cashiers to change the WIC rules. Everything is run through the computer and it has the master list of allowable WIC items. He promised to post that list later on the US Army Garrison Humphreys’ Facebook page.
- There was a question about cashiers and baggers speaking in a foreign language in front of customers. Personally, I’ve never had a problem with this nor do I know anyone who’s been offended but the commissary manager was stated that English was the only allowed language. The AAFES representative quickly stood up and said that it is probably illegal to tell someone they can’t speak their native language and he would look into it. I’m not sure what to think of those two but they reminded me of an old married couple waiting to see what the other one would do.
- Optometry can only take appointments for military and their dependents. No appointments for civilians and and their families are available.
- The new smartphone app, BAACH, will give patients immediate access to phone numbers and local hospitals in case of an emergency. This is a must have app for all residents on the peninsula. Go here to see my list of useful apps and social media sites for new Camp Humphreys residents.
- The HeroCare App is now available and makes it easier for families to send an emergency message to their soldiers.
- There is no date for completion of the Humphreys’ Hospital.
New Facilities Coming to Camp Humphreys
- Warrior Zone (Open Now) – Recreation Center for soldiers is now open.
- Pet Care Center (TBD) – The Pentagon approved a new pet care center and pet hotel for Camp Humphreys. Humphreys is now in the design process so don’t expect to see it for many years to come. In the meantime, the Pyeongtaek Merchant’s Association is encouraging Pet Hotel’s from Seoul to open new branches here in Paengseong.
- Walk-In gate Gazebo and grills (End of 2017) – Sadly, the Gazebo won’t be ready for the 2017 grilling season but MWR will assist FRG’s and other organizations with their gate sales by providing lawn space and grills. The new gazebo will be similar in design and structure to its predecessor and will have running water, updated equipment and a bike rack.
- Humphreys West Elementary (August 2017) – Which school your elementary student attends depends on their location. More information will be emailed to parents soon.
- Humphreys Middle School (August 2017) – Middle School is delayed but will be ready for the new school year.
- PX (Sept-Dec 2017) – The new PX will have two sit down restaurants. The names of these restaurants will be announced later in the year.
- Commissary (Sept- Dec 2017) – Not having a new commissary before the influx of families in August is going to make for empty produce aisles and a distinct lack of my favorite root beer but there are alternatives.
- In the Meantime:
- The Humphreys’ Ville has a grocery store in the Paradia building (near El Gitano) and the 3/8 open air market on the 3’s and 8’s of the month near Howard Hotel. The market is very popular all year long for fresh vegetables, meats, seafood and eggs.
- The Korea Mart (aka Orange Mart) is open 24 hours and is frequently shopped at by Humphreys’ residents. I once went there at midnight for one bag of garlic and the cashier was laughing at me and asking what the emergency was. I had to finish cooking Gumbo for the soldiers and it has to sit overnight in the fridge for the best flavor, it was important! There are two more grocery stores in upper Paengseong/ Songwha-ri area near Pizza school.
- In Pyeongtaek, the Tong Bok Open Air Market is open 7 days a week and is at the bus stop right before AK Plaza.
- In the Meantime:
- Bowling Alley (Late Fall 2017) – It’s going to be 38 lanes! I hope there is an indoor play area like Osan’s.
- 8th Army HQ (End of 2017) – A new restaurant will be at HQ, to be announced at a later date.
- Golf Course (March 2018) – The Golf Course will have 5 new restaurants to be announced at a later date.