2/15/2011 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- March 4 will be a banner day when the Eglin Club opens its doors after seven months of renovations.
The grand opening will be more than new paint and flooring. It ushers in a new era, following the Air Force model many bases are adopting, of consolidating enlisted and officer clubs into one facility.
A recent letter to club members highlighted the difficulties of operating two financially sound membership clubs on Eglin. These difficulties drove 96 ABW leadership's decision to consolidate the club in order to preserve the best of what the club system has to offer.
More than $2 million worth of renovations, plus a location on pristine waterfront property on Choctawhatchee Bay, makes the club an attractive alternative for dining and parties alike. All the renovations, like the kitchen facelift, will not be readily noticeable to patrons. However, a $1.7 million upgrade to the heating and air conditioning system will be welcomed by anyone attending a function at the club. Patrons will also notice an entirely revamped audio/visual system, including new speakers zoned for different areas and eight 55" televisions.
1st Lt. Julie Teffeteller, 96th Force Support Squadron project manager, said appropriated funds and civil engineering paid for HVAC and kitchen remodel and the non-appropriated funds council kicked in for other upgrades.
"We came up with a wish list that included carpeting and tile for the lobby," Lieutenant Teffeteller said. "Later we asked for paint and to remove the wallpaper from the facility."
According to Jack Widner, club manager, the last major renovations to the club were in 1995. During renovations most of the programs offered at the former officers' club were moved to the enlisted club so patrons could continue to be served.
"We didn't sustain the loss we could have since we moved programs like night dining," Mr. Widner said. "The enlisted club picked up a lot of the catering and bingo; those are our money makers."
Lieutenant Teffeteller said programs at the enlisted club will transition back to the consolidated club; the first Sunday brunch is March 6, lunch will be served March 7 and bingo returns March 16. The barber shop will continue operating at the enlisted club until further notice.
"The enlisted club will be closed after all of our current club programs transfer to this facility," the lieutenant said.
A grand opening First Friday is the first scheduled event March 4. Eglin club members and their immediate family can see the renovations first hand while enjoying a barbeque party which will include music and games. Members will be glad to know the dues structure that went into effect last summer will remain the same after the consolidation.
Mr. Widner said the club is already booked for parties and weddings through July.
The force support squadron expects to hold a "club naming" contest in the near future. Check on their website http://eglinforcesupport.com, for more information on the contest and programs at Eglin's Club.