Public partnerships benefit Fort Gordon, other military installations

Brenda Cody (right) checks Angela Wooten out of the IHG Army Hotel on Chamberlain Avenue at Fort Gordon. Fort Gordon leaders say handing over the hotel to a private company has allowed them to focus on their core mission of training soldiers.

Private and public partnerships are benefiting Fort Gordon and other military installations around Georgia during tight budget times.


Augusta, for example, provides Fort Gordon with its water supply and sewage treatment, allowing the Army post to decommission its treatment plant and recycle used water for irrigation. Fort Stewart receives a similar deal from the city of Hinesville.

The Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Ga., worked with Chevron last year to produce electricity using methane gas pumped in from the town’s landfill.

The public partnerships not only provide savings but also demonstrate strong ties with the community.

“Anything that can be shown as a partnership, whether it’s lowering infrastructure (costs) or something else, is an important consideration,” said David Bockel, a retired Army major general and the executive director of the Georgia Military Affairs Coordinating Committee, an affiliate of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

In the past six years, Fort Gordon, which is essentially a small city, has outsourced two of its vital services: water and sewage treatment and electrical power. In 2008, Augusta and Fort Gordon signed a $290 million deal for the city to provide water to the post at wholesale cost. That deal was soon expanded to include sewage treatment.

Fort Gordon uses about 2.5 million gallons of water daily, or about 6 to 8 percent of Augusta’s usage. The federal contract also paid for the replacement of old pipes in Fort Gordon’s sewage system.

Augusta Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said Augusta breaks even on the deal.

“Everything is reinvested back into the system,” Wiedmeier said. “The way we look at it, Fort Gordon is a vital part of Augusta and the more we can do to help Fort Gordon be strong,” the better.

Fort Gordon’s garrison commander, Col. Robert Barker, and his deputy commander, John Curry, said a shrinking budget for infrastructure projects was hindering their ability to provide the best quality of life for soldiers and their families.

Before a partnership in 2006 with Georgia Power, outages were a regular occurrence on post, particularly during the summer, when heavy demands were placed on the system. Not only has Georgia Power improved the reliability of the power source, it has also brought new lighting to dark areas on post and allowed for more environmentally conscious construction, Barker said.

“It’s made the installation a safer place,” he said.

Private partnerships are also paying dividends. A year ago, the hotels at Fort Gordon were turned over to a private company, InterContinental Hotels Group. The company has upgraded rooms, added wireless Internet, accommodated pets and improved customer service.

Curry said they’ve done a “phenomenal job” and allowed Fort Gordon to focus on its core mission.

“It’s put us back into our competencies, which is providing the best quality of life for the soldiers and what we owe them for what they do,” Barker said.

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Mon, 01/22/2018 - 18:23

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