75th leadership addresses base community concerns

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Editor's note: This is the third and final in a series of articles answering questions from a town hall meeting held with 75th Air Base Wing leadership Nov. 8.

Q. Before I came into the military, I was covered by several different dental plans. Each one of these insurance companies had figured out that it was cheaper to provide cleanings and checkups twice a year, as recommended by the American Dental Association, rather than paying for the procedures to repair the damage caused by neglect. My wife is covered under the Tricare dental program, and she gets better care than I do with cleaning/checkups every six months.

I have spoken to the dental clinic, and they said I could call and request a mid year cleaning, and they would try to fit me in, but this policy leads me to believe that they are too busy to provide full service to their patients. I understand that Hill's clinic provides an important environment for dental technicians to train, but if they can't provide the full service required, perhaps the group they are providing service to should be reduced and the Tricare dental program expanded.
A. Our dental clinic is in line with the American Dental Association in that they do not blanket recommend a twice-a-year checkup. The ADA actually uses the statement "schedule regular dental checkups." It does NOT state a guideline or requirement for twice-a-year checkups. The general belief in the need for twice-a-year checkups came from very successful toothpaste advertisement campaigns stating "use XXX and see your dentist twice a year."

The bottom line is that Hill's Dental Clinic sees patients based upon their needs as determined by a yearly examination. Some individuals may require examinations and cleanings more often (based upon their risk for decay and gum disease), but the professionals at the clinic say that what you do at home on a daily basis for your teeth has significantly more impact on your dental health than a twice yearly exam/cleaning. As such, they are not manned to provide more than what is needed.

Q. Why do people who visit Bldg. 100 or work at the depot, park at Bldg. 180, taking up all the Bldg. 180 customer spots? And why are they not held responsible for exceeding the two hour posted time limit?
A. This has been a habitual problem that we are making great strides toward fixing. Last spring the 75th Mission Support Squadron tackled the problem of parking in Parking Lot 8 (the parking lot for Bldg. 180). They started chalking tires and wrote more than 50 tickets. Some of the people being ticketed addressed the local union. We met with the civilian personnel labor relations liaison, and as a result of the meeting, agreed to check and ensure Parking Lot 8 was within the labor agreement. We had to take away 11 reserved slots, and we had to put up two additional parking signs in the extreme south side of the lot. We were not allowed to write any tickets until both issues were resolved. As soon as the signs were installed this fall, we immediately began to chalk tires and write tickets and we continue to do so. Availability of customer parking is important to us, and we will continue to monitor the parking lot.


Q. I'm a federal employee on base and would like to have more classes on retirement so I can understand my options and make wise decisions. Our civilian personnel office has quarterly briefs for the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS), but they are full and you can hardly get your questions asked in such a forum. When you call to make an individual appointment, you're told that they are too busy and are only handling the people who are within one year of retiring. I want to know who I can see to get this fixed. There are a lot of us out there wanting to plan ahead for retirement, not wait until one year prior.
A. Due to the limited staff serving employees here, our civilian personnel office is currently unable to offer private counseling sessions for employees interested in retiring. As you noted, they do offer group retirement counseling sessions for those retiring within the next month and during fiscal year 2006 offered an average of two counseling sessions per month.

There is a way to get the information you want, however. The information provided in the retirement briefings is also available on the Office of Personnel Management Web site (www.opm.gov/retire). The OPM Web site has many useful links, including checklists for employees who are considering retirement within the next five years, next year, and next six months. This information is available in a user-friendly format for all federal employees to peruse at their convenience.

The same is true if you want an estimate of retirement annuity or to make health and life insurance transactions. We have provided links to all of the benefit information on our unit Web site, http://www.hill.af.mil/civpers/permiss/b&e/Benefits%20Webpage.htm, as well as instructions on how to access other information that may be more difficult to understand.

Q. Do we enact the cell phone rule just for liability reasons? I see folks every day talking while driving. They are a nuisance and I've seen police cars drive right by and do nothing.
A. In 2006, the Department of Defense instituted a policy prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving in government vehicles (in all circumstances - on or off base) and in privately-owned vehicles while on base, unless the driver is using a hands-free device. We began the policy here in April 2006 when Air Force Materiel Command instituted the policy command-wide. Recently, we began a renewed effort to enforce the cell phone use policy, and the 75th Security Forces Squadron will ticket anyone observed violating the policy.

Q. Are there any plans to put lighting in the Club Hill parking lot? It's very dark out there at night after functions.
A. We have installed floodlights, directed toward the parking lot, at each of the two entrances and one at the southwest corner of the lot to improve conditions. We are also in the process of installing a new pole on the west side of the lot with two additional high-output lights. Additionally, we are committed to placing portable lighting in the lot to ensure safety during all-night functions, as required.

Q. With the F-35 coming to Hill, have there been any studies done on increased noise in the departure and arrival corridors?
A. Preliminary investigations have been made, yes, there may be an increase in the overall noise in the environs of Hill. The Department of Defense has had a program in place since the early 1970s to quantify and mitigate the impact of aircraft noise on the base and the surrounding communities. The program is called the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ). The AICUZ program makes recommendations to the base and local communities for certain land uses and types of construction in those land uses based on the noise levels created by aircraft operations. he AICUZ program will ensure all efforts to mitigate the impact of increased noise on the base and local community will be made.

Q. Is there any way to get security cameras in all the hallways in all of the dorms? Recently some dorm floors got trashed and cameras would've gone a long way toward identifying the criminals.
A. Yes. There is no question as to the value of surveillance cameras. We now have cameras installed in the common areas in one of the dorm facilities and have found them to be extremely effective in curbing vandalism and identifying other inappropriate conduct/behavior. The cameras have made the facility a better place for our younger to live and dorm management is now working toward having cameras installed in the hallways and common areas of all the dorms. Presently, it is a question of funding. We are working to see if we can gain some end of year funding for this purpose. If you have any questions on this or other dorm issues, contact the dorm management office at 777-2460.

Q. I heard there is no more "332" money for self-help projects. Is this true?
A. No. Currently, all self-help material is funded through the 75th Civil Engineer Squadron. Due to projected budget shortfalls this fiscal year, our civil engineers are forced to limit the scope of work to our customers. They will try, however, to keep our store stocked with common materials such as paint, paint material and other maintenance type items dependent upon funds availability.