More facilities have opened on Fort Hood, as the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation steadily returns to normal following a three-month closure in response to COVID-19.
With preventive measures in place at all facilities, Dr. Peter Craig, director of DFMWR, said they have increased cleaning standards, limited capacity and all staff members are now required to wear a mask. “We’re encouraging customers to wear face masks,” Craig said. “Always encouraged – not required.”
With the summer heat bearing down in Central Texas, the Fort Hood DFMWR responded by opening two of its swimming pools and Sierra Beach, providing a way to beat the heat this summer.
Comanche Pool, located on the west side of main post; Patton Pool, located on the east side of main post; and Sierra Beach, located at the Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area, reopened at noon Friday. All three swimming areas are open from noon-8 p.m. Friday-Sunday.
Craig explained that with a limited number of lifeguards who were already certified, they are only opening during the weekend, since it’s the most popular time to go swimming. To limit exposure, he said the beach and pools are
currently allowing a 25% capacity. He said, while the pools are open, the locker rooms are off-limits, except for the use of the restroom area.
“Within the pool areas, the slides and splash pads are not open because we cannot clean them easily,” Craig said.
The department director said after use, pool chairs are sanitized before allowing someone else to use the equipment. Other safety features include lifeguards sanitizing their areas during lifeguard rotation.
People were lined up out the door as the Recreation Equipment Checkout Center reopened its doors Friday morning. Craig said the RECC is great for people who want to enjoy things like kayaking, boating, jet skiing, etc., without having to make those costly purchases.
Abigail Crosby, the program manager for Adventure Programs with RECC, said they encourage customers to call in and reserve equipment ahead of time. Once there, customers have the option of waiting in their vehicle if they cannot maintain social distancing inside the building.
“(We are) trying to do as much as we can on the phone to minimize the contact,” Crosby said.
RECC is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Monday.
The Apache Arts and Crafts Center is also trying to minimize contact by limiting customers throughout the facility. The woodshop room is limited to six customers, the multi-craft room is limited to three customers, SKIES classes are limited to nine customers and ceramics is limited to ten people.
“I have a couple of departments (where) people are high risk, so if you notice on the framing of the door, there’s a sign,” Richard Demorest, manager of Apache Arts and Crafts, explained. “The door’s going to be locked. Knock on it, (and) she’ll come up and talk to you through the door. If it’s something she has to have you in for, she’ll put on her stuff (personal protective equipment) and you put your mask on and you’ll go in there.”
AACC is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday.
Samuel Adams Brewhouse reopened June 18, with Soldiers showing up to enjoy a little downtime at the end of the workday.
Craig said they have removed some of the seating areas, so all tables are now socially distanced throughout the facility. Following state guidelines, Samuel Adams is also currently at 50% capacity.
“We’ve removed some of the games, but have one pool table open,” Craig said. “The balls and sticks are controlled by the staff, so they can be sanitized between games.”
Samuel Adams is currently open from 4:30-9 p.m. Thursday and 3-9 p.m. Friday.
The Sprocket Auto Crafts facility is now open to help auto lovers repair their own vehicles.
“If they don’t have tools, but want to change a tire, or if they want to do an oil change or put new brakes on, they can do that,” Craig said. “Our staff will help guide them, but won’t do it for them.”
Preventive measures at the shop include restricting vehicles to every other bay to help reduce the chance for close contact. Since staff members are on-hand to offer guidance, if necessary, Craig said they will be wearing masks, but it is not required for customers.
“The intent is that our team is there to provide oversight and support, but they do it (the work) themselves,” Craig said about Sprocket.
Sprocket is open from noon-8 p.m., Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday.
Despite it seeming like everything is suddenly reopening, Craig said people seem hesitant because of increasing cases of COVID-19 off-post, so they are taking things slowly.
“Everything is a slow reopen,” Craig said, relieved most people are taking it slowly as everything prepares to one day return to normal.
Blair Dupre, Sentinel Sports/Leisure Editor, contributed to this article.