Military Matters: Fort Drum's Arts & Crafts Center Gets Axe

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The arts and crafts center on Fort Drum has offered soldiers and families a creative outlet since 1988.

It offers classes and equipment for everything from ceramics, pottery, and woodworking, to stained glass, sewing, and even guitar making.

Effective March 30, the arts and crafts center will be closed for good.

A functional fitness center will be opening in its place.

"This was a great service for many of our family members and soldier crafters as well. It's just one of the hard decisions we have to make in this new fiscal reality where there is less money to go around and we must be very careful with the money that we have," said Fort Drum spokesperson Julie Cupernall.

Between staff salaries, utilities and supplies, it costs around $210,000 a year to keep the arts and crafts service open.

Plus, it would need another $385,000 immediately for necessary upgrades to the exhaust system to handle the sawdust and fumes.

It's the type of service and facility that has to be able to pay for itself to be sustainable.

With less than 100 dedicated users, it just isn't.

The bottom line: running the arts and crafts center is just too expensive.

"I very much understand it. It doesn't mean I necessarily like it though," said Sergeant First Class Mary O'Keefe (Ret.), a patron of the center.

Fort Drum says it's not happy about it either.

"We're very sorry. We don't want to cut back on services.  That's the absolute last thing in the world we want to do," said Cupernall.

Authorized MWR patrons can buy the supplies at a 20 percent discount during normal business hours between now and March 30, when the arts and crafts center's doors close for good.
 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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