By Rhonda Apple,
Pentagram staff writer
JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. - Key leaders from the southwest sector of the District of Columbia received a “state of the joint base” update by Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Commander Col. Fern O. Sumpter March 13 at a breakfast meeting at the Fort McNair Officers Club.
Sumpter updated about 40 attendees – mostly members of the Washington Waterfront Association – on multiple construction, renovation and facility maintenance projects spanning all three military bases that make up the joint base: Fort Myer, Fort McNair and Henderson Hall.
“Normally I have the opportunity to do this breakfast once a year, but with the roller-coaster last year with the sequester, furloughs and the government shutdown, the opportunity to host this event did not present itself,” Sumpter said. “I can honestly say I’m thrilled to see you all once again.”
With substantial changes taking place on JBM-HH over the past year, Sumpter provided a “state of the joint base” presentation. She highlighted base renovations, including the June 2013 opening of the newly renovated privatized Army lodging, historical Wainwright Hall; the eight-month renovation to The Old Post Chapel, which included technological upgrades and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant features and the newly refurbished playground at Cody Child Development Center, featuring age-appropriate playground equipment and a rubberized playground surface.
Sumpter said new construction on the Henderson Hall portion of the joint base began in January 2014 to add 7,200-square feet of additional retail space to the Marine Corps Exchange.
Other renovations, the commander pointed out, included the nearly-completed upgrades to the Army and Air Force Exchange on the Fort Myer portion of JBM-HH; and the January 2014 ground-breaking on a new communications building to replace a structure damaged during the 2011 earthquake.
Sumpter talked about the March 2013 dedication of Grant Hall on Fort McNair, following the three-year renovation to restore the historic building where the Lincoln assassination tribunal was held in 1865. Other McNair renovations included the Inter-American Defense College, upgrades on two buildings and a new parking lot, replacing the area where the old swimming pool was located.
Sumpter stressed the extraordinary support the southwest D.C. community has provided to military members and families.
“The annual Thanksgiving Luncheon Cruise is a perfect example of your overwhelming generosity,” she said. “Without a second thought, you arranged to treat service members, Wounded Warriors and veterans to a fantastic Thanksgiving meal and a cruise up the Potamac River.”
Other events which benefit service members and veterans were lauded by the commander, including the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival, held annually during the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the annual Parade of Lighted Boats in December.
Sumpter said community support of military families and veterans is a continually crucial component of making us “stronger as a nation.”
“Thank you for your continued and generous support of our Wounded Warriors, our service members and their families, our veterans and of my command,” said Sumpter. “By all standards, you have gone above and beyond in your support. Your efforts do make a difference and for that, we are eternally grateful.”
Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan, who also attended the event, agreed.
“I really enjoy all the benefits everyday which you all contribute to make this a great part of the city. We are very happy to be partners with you and want to help you move forward,” Buchanan said.
The 2014 National Cherry Blossom Festival will be held March 20 to April 13 in Washington. A signature event during the festival, the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival will be held Saturday, April 5 from 1 - 9 p.m., at 600-700 Water Streets SW, Washington, with a fireworks show at 8:30 p.m. on the Washington Channel.