By Philip Jankowski
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD — The biannual Hood Howdy on post Thursday will occur simultaneously and about 1,100 feet away from a pretrial hearing for the accused Fort Hood shooter.
Close to 2,000 people are expected at the informational fair at Club Hood. The turnout may be bigger than at past events because of soldiers' return from deployments.
At the same time, Maj. Nidal Hasan will be at the Lawrence J. Williams Judicial Center less than a quarter-mile from Hood Howdy.
Despite the proximity, military officials said the two events will not create any security issues.
Post spokesman Chris Haug said part of Club Hood will be shut off from Hood Howdy visitors and the Club Hood's east parking lot will be closed to the public.
Hasan, 41, is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder, charges that could earn him the death penalty when his upcoming court-martial concludes.
Security for the Army psychiatrist's pretrial hearings has gradually increased as his Aug. 20 trial approaches.
The post has most recently placed about 200 Conex containers around the Fort Hood courtroom, presumably to prevent an attack. At some places, the large, gray metal crates are stacked as high as three stories.
Thursday's Article 39a hearing — similar to pretrial hearings in civilian courts — will include arguments over whether a government witness who has labeled Hasan a "home-grown terrorist" can be admitted during trial.
Both Hasan's hearing and Hood Howdy begin at 10 a.m. Thursday.
More than 60 sponsors are expected to set up at the Club Hood event along with dozens of nonprofit agencies. All give information about services they provide, said Shelly Damo, commercial sales manager for Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation, the organization hosting the event.
Attendees will have the opportunity to gather several free items. Past Hood Howdy events, held every February and August, have included a small job fair, free Zumba classes and other promotions, officials said.
The event is free, open to the public and ends at 2 p.m.
Contact Philip Jankowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.