Base populace welcomes West Gate opening

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Now that the main gate has re-opened, I'd like to start out by saying "thank you" to the entire Team Peterson community for bearing with the closure of the West Gate for 98 days. I know it was inconvenient for all of those who live and work on the base; however, it was critical that we take the time to upgrade all aspects of its operation.

The tremendous security upgrades that have taken place significantly increase our operational capability and increase the overall security of the installation. Aside from the many physical security improvements, the gate now has the capability to verify visitor's credentials through the National Crime Information Center. The adjacent Visitor Control Center is also equipped with a new force protection tool designed to identify potential threats to the base. Given that a core component of the 21st Space Wing mission is to provide unsurpassed installation support and protection, the new West Gate will go a long way toward fulfilling this mission requirement.

Besides an upgrade to security, the new facility also offers a wide-array of customer service improvements. Not only is the Visitor Control Center more than three times as large as the previous location, but it also has twice as much parking space. In addition, the interior will now accommodate seating for more than 50 persons, while the number of service counters increases to six. When you factor in the one additional lane for inbound and outbound vehicles, the West Gate will dramatically increase traffic flow on and off the installation.

Getting the West Gate up and running was a complete team effort. My thanks to those in the 21st Civil Engineer, Contracting, and Security Forces squadrons who worked so diligently to complete the project on time. The contributions by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; PCL Construction Services; and Merrick, the lead agency for the West Gate's design, were also obviously important. Finally, Master Sgt. Shaun Guilfoil deserves a world of credit for the work he did as action officer for the West Gate grand opening. He served as the 21st SW single point of contact for all issues related to the opening. Thanks to his efforts and all of those listed above, the West Gate re-opening was well-worth the wait.

The Deployed Airmen Welcome Home Celebration held Oct. 29 was also a big community success. Thanks to a variety of local sponsors, more than 20 Airmen and their families received the warmest homecoming possible with a complimentary dinner at The Club. The sponsors included First Command Financial Planning, Ent Federal Credit Union, USAA Military Affairs and Pioneer Services. Throughout the day, those military members attending the event wore their Desert Camouflage Uniforms to commemorate the celebration. This event was just one way of showing how much the community and all of Team Peterson appreciates their sacrifices.

I can't close this week's commentary without mentioning the fact that Peterson had another huge turnout for Halloween trick-or-treating. It seems that each year, more and more children turn out with their parents; this is a testament to the close-knit community that exists on base. I know, in many cases, the parents look forward to the yearly event almost as much as the kids do.

Because of our security forces personnel and the members from Airman Leadership School class 08-1 who volunteered to patrol the neighborhood, safety and security was never an issue. Once again, my personal thanks to all of these Airmen for their above and beyond contributions to ensuring this year's festivities went without incident.