By Colleen Flaherty

Fort Hood Herald

Taking a cue from the federal government, Fort Hood's Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation announced steps to streamline operations last week.

The changes, mostly minor, will take effect Tuesday.

Directorate spokesperson Wilson Mathews said that his agency had decided where and what it would cut, but that the process was part of a larger Pentagon cost and energy conservation initiative. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been speaking publicly of the need to streamline Defense Department budgets for months.

Among the Fort Hood initiatives are the introduction of a gray water pipeline irrigation system at the Courses of Clear Creek golf course and changes to gym holiday schedules. After the end of the month, only Abrams Physical Fitness Center will be open on national holidays.

Club Hood will continue to offer its Beef and Burgundy dinner on the first and third Monday of each month, in addition to a Family Night option every second and fourth Thursday. Weekly Sunday brunches have been scaled back to major holidays only, however, due to low attendance rates. Brunch will be offered on Easter, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The directorate will continue to offer entertainment quarterly, but could start charging a nominal attendance fee. Defense Department cardholders will also have to shell out $2 per car load at Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area. The admission was free.

Directorate director Nicholas Johnsen said last week that the efficiencies honored Fort Hood's commitment to its employees and families, and "are designed to ensure that we make the necessary efforts to protect precious resources and to ensure we work hard to provide programs that our customers will support."

The announcement of the changes coincides with budget talks in the nation's capital.

The House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel began its 2011 hearing cycle earlier this month, starting with a look at the Defense Department's recreation programs.

Committee chairman Joe Wilson, a congressman from South Carolina, said during the hearings that such programming would be scrutinized for efficiency and efficacy, but wouldn't be considered "easy targets for the budget cutters."

Mathews said Thursday that the agency hadn't received any complaints since its announcement. The changes won't affect too many people, he said.

Contact Colleen Flaherty at colleenf@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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