10/01/17 — Seymour Johnson Air Force Base opens new community center

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Seymour Johnson Air Force Base opens new community center

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 1, 2017 1:45 AM

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The Ramos family prepares to cut the ribbon for the new community center for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base Thursday. Pictured from left are Elizabeth, Calliope, 2, Benjamin, 13, Jeremias and Jayden, 7.

Minutes after helping cut the ribbon opening the new Corvias Community Center on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, 7-year-old Jayden Ramos was inside trying his hand at shooting pool.

Jayden had some problems getting the cue ball to go where he wanted it to, but that did not lessen the smile on his face -- he just kept trying until he finally succeeded.

Thursday's opening of the new community center has been about 16 months in the making, said Sharon Shores, Corvias operations director.

Corvias is the private company that built and manages base housing as well as the new community center.

Down the hall from the large club room where Jayden was playing is a fitness room that adjoins a children's play area.

What is unique about those two rooms is that they are separated by a large glass wall so that parents can workout while keeping an eye on their children at play.

The children's area was a suggestion by Brig Gen. Mark Slocum, former 4th Fighter Wing commander.

Slocum wanted children to have an area where they could engage in physical activities, Shores said.

"I am going to take a picture of it and email it to him tonight," she said.

The center will be open seven days a week.

"We have had a lot of families coming around and using the playground already and looking to see what we were doing," Shores said. "So they are excited. They are ready to start using it."

There is something for every age there, she said.

An obstacle challenge course is going up for ages 12 and older.

"There is a pavilion," Shores said. "There is fire pit. There is just a lot of stuff out there. There is a sport court for basketball or any sport. It is like a resort, it really is."

The center has locker rooms, a club room with a pool table and foosball and a kitchen and a teen hangout room near the entrance where there are video and pinball games.

A multipurpose room can be used for meetings. It can be reserved to have birthday parties or showers or study group.

There is a gym, also.

Historic Air Force photos are placed throughout the facility.

The center also has offices to house the Corvias property management team and the government housing management office.

During the ribbon cutting, Robert E. Moriarty, director of installations for the Air Force Civil Engineering Center, said he has seen a transformation since we entered active duty in the early 1980s.

"Back then our idea of a community area was a playground with inadequate bark underneath it," he said. "That was our community kind of activity. Not only do we have, I believe, better homes for our airmen, we also have community things like the community center.

"We strive to provide good housing for our airmen, and it is truly a partnership."

What Corvias does is important because the fighter wing commander and vice commander do not need to spend their time dealing with housing issues, Moriarty said.

"When they are not spending time providing combat power downrange to where we need it and making sure our airmen are ready to go at any minute's notice, then we lose," he said.

The transformation of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base housing began with the renovation of 336 homes and continues with the renovation of an additional 146, said 4th Fighter Wing Vice Commander Col. Brian Armstrong.

Amenities added include lighted pathways, school bus stops, pavilions, landscaping enhancement, dog park, obstacle course and youth center, he said.

Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Corvias truly are partners and they work closely together, he said.

"I know you work hard every day to take care of our airmen," he said. "As partners, Seymour Johnson and Corvias put together the community development plan to improve the on-base housing and amenities that the airmen stationed here deserve."

The new community center is incredible and is a direct reflection of those plans, Armstrong said.

It is uniquely tailored to the families at the base, he said.

"This is a new day at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as family housing residents lives will improve drastically due to these community improvements," Armstrong said.