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Town Hall Community Updates

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy --

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Daniel Lasica, 31st Fighter Wing commander, held a town hall here, Jan 15, 2019.

The town hall series provides a venue for updating the community on quality-of-life improvements and for leadership to hear suggestions and feedback from the community.

Town halls are planned to be held at least three times a year, or as needed. The following are updates on topics that were discussed.

Food Services

The base continues to increase food options in response to feedback from Airmen and their families. Changes already in place include opening the La Dolce Vita Dining Facility (DFAC) to all base personnel and family members for Saturday and Sunday brunches as well as specialty lunches like the Mongolian barbeque. Changes being finalized include allowing families residing in Temporary Living Facilities (TLF) on orders to eat at the DFAC for all meals. For more information contact the Dining Facility at 0434-30-8206.

The base is also restarting a trial food truck program beginning in April, which will be stationed by the flight line. A food delivery service from the La Bella Vista Club for dorm Airmen is also in consideration.

The base is also researching the viability of an American food chain such as Chili’s on base and the Air Force Services Agency (AFSVA) is willing to consider the addition pending these results.

Spouse Employment

The base is hosting an on-base job fair for 31st Force Support Squadron (FSS) jobs on April 17 to increase spouse employment opportunities. Applicants should bring their resume and command sponsorship documentation. Expect potential on-the-spot interviews and hiring for these vacancies.

In general, spouses and dependents are prohibited from holding off-base employment without a Host Nation (HN) Work Visa. For additional clarification on Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) rules for spouse and dependent employment, please contact the Legal Office at 0434-30-7843.

Legal Assistance attorneys can advise on opportunities under telework conditions or jobs considered “de minimis” under HN tax regulations. Individual situations will be unique and require legal assistance counseling. Please contact the Legal Office at 0434-30-7843 to make an appointment.

Fitness

Aviano families with small children have options for exercising with young ones. Review the 31st FSS website for more information on available family classes and small child rules here: https://www.31fss.com/fitness-centers

The Cross Fit Battle Rig has been moved to better utilize space in the Wyvern Fitness Center in direct response to feedback received during the August 2018 Town Hall.

The Fitness Centers are in the process of installing over $5,000 in new equipment designed to increase over-all quality of functional fitness. For updates visit the Aviano Fitness Center Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AvianoFitness/

Newcomers

The Pass and Registration office offers an online process that prevents arriving unprepared and increases the overall number of appointments while reducing wait times. For more information contact them at 0434-30-4858.

Based on feedback, sponsors can now reserve an Aviano P.O. Box for their member prior to their arrival.

The Wyvern Welcome, formerly Newcomers Orientation, has been restructured as well, and will assist new personnel to in-process the base through two phases.

Phase one is called “Squadrons Early Contact through Sponsorship Program” and includes online tools to ensure newcomers have information and resources prior to arrival. These include the First 31 Website, specific training for squadron sponsors, tools for sponsors and new tools for squadrons to track sponsorship.

In phase two, families are given a warm welcome and provided their own tools for quick integration via the new Wyvern Welcome, which integrates mandatory in-processing requirements with a wing leadership social, a tour of the base, and the Benvenuti tour.  

Quality of Life Programs (QOL)

QOL programs are integral for a successful tour at Aviano. Programs like the Heart Link have been restarted, monthly Deployed Family Dinners are a permanent program, and there are three Spouse Resiliency Days scheduled for 2019. Deployed Family Dinners are scheduled for the second Monday of the month, with some exceptions. Resiliency days include the Spouse Resiliency Day on May 3, the Spouse BBQ and Pool Party on Aug. 16, and the Spouse Appreciation Day on Nov. 15.

The Heart link program strives to allow families connections and face-to-face opportunities to increase community and lasting relationships. The next scheduled Heart Link is May 23. Contact the Airman and Family Readiness Center (AFRC) at 0434-30-5407 for more information.

The Community Action Team (CAT) is comprised of more than a dozen offices whose aim is to assist in developing QOL programs for the Aviano community. The CAT has released a 2019 calendar of events and workshops that can be found on the Aviano Air Base website here: https://www.aviano.af.mil/About-Us/Community-Support-Agencies/

Upgrades to lodging Wi-Fi coverage has improved internet services for Airmen and families in all rooms throughout TLF. The full upgrade was completed on Dec 28 and every room has enough coverage for regular internet use. Any concerns with Wi-Fi coverage should be brought to Lodging at 0434-30-4040.

The Shoppette on Area F has increased hours to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, as a direct result of feedback received during the August 2018 Town Hall.

The Patriot Express contracted passenger plane has been approved to return starting in April through September. The following dates have been confirmed: April 4, April 18, May 2, May 16, May 30, and every two weeks after May. The current route stops will include Baltimore; Aviano (ITA); Al Udied (QAT) and Ramstein (DEU).

European Command (EUCOM) recently conducted a review of the off-base uniform policy and decided not to change the policy.

Recent base events have seen increased attendance to include 7,500 people at Fall Fest, 2,100 people for the Trunk or Treat, 2,500 people at the Wyvern Wonderland and 100 people for the Deployed Family Dinner.

Vicini Americani

The base is re-launching the “Vicini Americani” program or “American Neighbors” as a direct result of your feedback to bridge the gap between families and the 44 cities and towns they are a part of.

The program will be composed of both American and Italian community members working together to encourage Americans to embrace their local community, the province of Pordenone, and the region of Friuli Venezia Guilia.

If you are interested in volunteering, descriptions of the positions available can be found at www.31fss.com under the “Professional Opportunities” and “Current Volunteer Opportunities”. You can contact Wesley Yancey at 0434-30-5407 or email at Wesley.yancey.1@us.af.mil for more information.

Medical Treatment

The 31st Medical Group (MDG) is normally closed for training every third Thursday of the month. Starting in February the 31st MDG is now open until 11 a.m. on those training days. This allows beneficiaries access to services in the morning, but still allow the medical staff to maintain readiness during the afternoon training sessions.

Based on your feedback, the 31st MDG has made adjustments to their parking lot, freeing up an additional ten percent of spaces for staff and teachers. Please remember that patients have priority and school staff and parents are asked to respect these parking areas.

Child Care

The 31st MDG is establishing a map of private breastfeeding areas as well as providing additional private breast feeding pods in convenient areas in response to feedback from the community. Currently, two lactation rooms are available, one inside the Mensa building and one in the medical clinic.

The Child Development Center (CDC) has hired 11 new providers and opened up an additional two ratio rooms to help extend care.

Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) Changes

COLA in Aviano decreased eight basis points in 2019. This change reflects the strong U.S. economy compared to the Aviano locality. Airmen can ensure they are receiving the proper allotment by verifying dependent numbers on your Leave and Earnings Statement (LES).

Members can get their current COLA amounts using the Defense Travel Management Office (DTMO) here: https://www.defensetravel.dod.mil/site/colaCalc.cfm

The AFRC also provides personal financial management instruction and help if families are looking for budget support. They can be reached at 0434-30-5407.

 

Below are questions and answers from the Town Hall event.

Community Relations

Q:   Can we hold more events for the single Airmen living off base?

A:    The new Vicini Americani program will build a network of volunteers and programs providing community information during the Wyvern Welcome and continue to build meaningful relationships for all members to include single personnel in each community.

Fuel Cards

Q:   How do we know how much we will be spending per liter each time we buy gas?

A:    After the first few times you fill up, you should be able to get an idea of what you will be spending per liter.  Each time you fill up, you will receive an invoice from the Navy Exchange (NEX) through the Forax system.  It’ll take time for you to see the invoice, depending on the gas station and where the purchase falls in the billing cycle.  Compared to the gas coupons, you will see around 15 cents of savings per liter.  Keep in mind that it’s less expensive to use the self-service than to use the attendants at servito.  If you are in uniform, do not get out of your vehicle to pump your gas regardless of the price difference. A rough estimate is to take 50% of the price to get the price per liter.

Q:   Do unused liters rollover into next month’s liters?

A:    No, each month you have a certain amount of liters provided based on the size and horse power of your primary vehicle.  If you do not use the full amount, they will not be added to next month’s total liters. You are provided with only the amount needed to drive to and from work. Rations are not intended for leisure travel trips.

Q:   Is there a website that shows the fluctuation in gas prices?

A:    There is not a website with this information, but if you review your invoice you should be able to gauge the average dollar amount.

Q:   Do you have an estimate on what percentage of the gas price is taxes?

A:    We’ve seen 53%-56% but we don’t know for sure.  Once you get your invoice, take the dollar amount and divide it by liters. That should give you an approximate amount.  An additional benefit of the fuel card is being able to use the upgraded fuel without an extra tax.

Q:   For personnel renting cars due to PCS or at Aviano TDY, do they use coupons or will they be issued a fuel card?

A:    The new card program works for car rentals.  The member will need to go to Pass and Registration where they will receive a temporary ration letter. The letter will be taken to the BX customer service to receive a fuel card (must provide payment information).  For a PCS, a permanent fuel card will be issued once the primary vehicle arrives or is purchased and registered with Pass and Reg.

Q:   What gas stations accept the cards?

A:    Only Eni and Agip gas stations in Italy accept the fuel cards.

 

Food

Q:   Can the golf course extend the breakfast hours?

A:    The golf course currently offers an all-day breakfast on Sundays. 

Q:   Are the rumors about a Dunkin Donuts coming to the base true?

A:    We are unsure at this time, but we will follow up with the services personnel since that is a separate department from AAFES.

 

Facilities

Q:   With space being limited, is it possible to rebuild Area 2 into a usable space?

A:    That space was marked for demolition a few years back and will return to a grass field.  We will look more into this matter to consider different options.

Q:   The small space heaters at the gates aren’t enough to keep our Defenders warm, can we install larger heaters to ensure they’re kept warm on shift?

A:    Many of our Defender’s facilities need improvement.  Aviano is an older base and we run into issues like limited electrical load capacity issues. We are working with our support section to eliminate these issues to create a better work environment for our Defenders, including additional heaters at the gates.

Q:   Can we create a bigger space for people to gather and socialize including a play area for children?

A:    The Wyvern Town Center was initially built to be the town square where gatherings could take place, along with Freedom Park. While we’ve been using both these areas for major events, we are looking to use these areas more frequently for smaller gatherings as well.

Q:   Can we create a space for kids at the gym for children between the ages of 6-16?

A:    The aerobics and racquetball rooms are open to children of these ages. New classes have also begun that are child friendly with a parent present.

Q:   Can children between ages 6 -16 be allowed to use the weight rooms on their own?

A:   Children that are too old for the children’s area, but under 16 are not allowed to use the weight rooms due to safety concerns. The Parent-Child Area is six-years-old and under. We have seven child-friendly classes that are offered five days per week for parents who have children over the age of six. We are open to adding more, if feedback supports the need. Additionally, we’ve reached out to AFSVA for future possibilities of expansions to the fitness centers.  Due to safety concerns we had to be more stringent with age requirements as children were not well supervised in general fitness areas or the Parent-Child Area.  This was the reason we created the Child-Friendly classes. There is a Facebook group called "Aviano's Fit with Kids" where parents come together to discuss exercise options for their children.  Please use our ICE comment system to make your concerns heard if your needs are not being met by these programs.

Q:   Is there a possibility to expand or find a larger area in the gym for children under six?

A:    The recently expanded space has a maximum capacity of 10 children due to fire safety restrictions. Our team is looking for ways to create a bigger space for this age group.

 

Value Added Tax (VAT) Program Expansion 

Q:   Can we expand the VAT refund program for car maintenance to furniture or other large purchases similar to Vicenza’s program?

A:    Vicenza has been grandfathered into the system. About a year and a half ago we approached the Embassy with this option, where the response was “no”. We can re-address this again. 

 

Aviano Youth Program Bus to CDC

Q:  Could we have a morning AYP bus leaving from the CDC to the AYP on non-school days to include major school breaks?  This would alleviate parents having to drop off children at the CDC in area F and then have to go and drop off at the AYP in Area 1.  Parents would be able to drop off all their children at the CDC, and those that are enrolled at the AYP would be transported for them.  If this incurs an additional cost to run the bus or to pay the bus driver, parents could pay a small fee per child that requires the use of the bus system.

A:    The Aviano Youth Programs is currently looking into options and its feasibility. Initial estimates on per child price would be approx. $7 per day. The cost is driven by labor, fuel and vehicle. AYP personnel will poll families that currently have children in both facilities to establish an interest, which could impact the estimated price positively or negatively.

 

Foreign Vehicle Purchase

Q:  Someone recently arrived at Aviano and was told they could not buy a vehicle from outside of Italy. Is this true? If it is why and what guidance does it come from?

A:    Yes, the information you received is accurate. The Allied Forces in Italy (AFI) vehicle registration requirements are governed by NAVSUPPACT Naples Instruction 11240.19G.  When a vehicle is registered in the AFI system, proof of ownership (original title and/or registration documents issued by the previous jurisdiction (country)) is required.  To provide valid proof of ownership, the title or previous registration, must be registered in the name of the person who is registering the vehicle under the AFI system.  If a vehicle is purchased outside of Italy, dealerships cannot issue a registration or title under the buyer’s name, since the buyers are not residents of that country. NAVSUPPACT NI 11240.19G also states a Bill-of-Sale from an EU dealership or “unknown person” is not an acceptable substitution due to the possibility of theft/forgery. Contact the Pass and Registration office before signing any legal documentation. Refs: NAVSUPPACT Naples Instruction 11240.19, Sec 7. and NAVSUPPACT Naples Instruction 11240.19, Sec 8, para a.(3)(b)

 

Pet Boarding Facility

Q:   Has Aviano considered building a pet boarding facility?  Many other bases have them and it would be a great service to the community. Would it be possible to build and staff a pet boarding facility?  Or possibly a doggie daycare center during the week?

A:    31st FSS will reach out to other DoD installations with pet boarding facilities to benchmark ideas to build a business case analysis. Additionally, the 31st FSS will survey the base public to determine a desire/need and identify available space on base with CE.

 

Realtor Fees

Q:   Realtor fees are now occurring more often and the rates are increasing dramatically. About 60-75% of houses on homes.mil and AHRN state realtor fees apply and are usually equal to one month’s rent.  Families are now paying up to 1000€ out of pocket. What actions can be taken?

A:    Living in a foreign country and seeing their different business practices can be challenging. We realize newcomers are surprised by a fee related to finding a home in Italy. Legally, this process is allowed by Italian Civil Code article 1755. In addition to the landlord paying a fee, realtors can also charge a mediation fee to the renter. The Housing Office requested realtors and property managers add the realtor fee to the house listing so that disclosure is up front. This will allow members to make an informed choice whether to view that property or not. The Housing Office is also interacting with the local Realtor Associations to propose options to improve working relationships, reduce out-of-pocket costs, and make renting properties a win-win for all.

 

Base Access

Q:   I have a question regarding base access to Area 1. It’s my understanding that Entry Authorization needs to be approved by the Italian Commander for entry to Area F because Area F is under Italian command. Is Area 1 access the same? Most of the visitors to Area 1 are students who come to the school for educational and athletic activities. Could a simpler process be followed that would not take 30 days for approval?

A:    Installation access requests for any area of Aviano Air Base, to include Area 1, are governed by the Joint Access Publication POP/PRL-004.  This joint agreement requires all installation access requests be routed through the Italian Base Commander for final approval.  All requests require a concurrence from a U.S. commander, a Carabinieri criminal background check, and finally Italian Base Commander’s approval.  Requests are routed expeditiously; however, the completion of requirements can vary in duration based on the workload of outside agencies. If your request exceeds 30 days, you may contact the Visitor Center at 0434-30--4114 for personal/family requests or 0434-30-6174 for official/school visit requests.

 

Local Area Hospital Tours

Q:   Is it possible to set up tours of the Italian hospitals so that in the event of an emergency we know where to go?

A:    The Italians have specifically asked that we not show up with large groups of people. We will look to see if there are avenues to hold small tours or have sponsors take people in as they PCS. We understand it can be intimidating, especially in an emergency, but we will do our best to improve our system.  In the meantime, we encourage everyone to watch our virtual tour online or to stop by the hospitals and get a feel of the area while you’re not in a stressful situation.

Q:   Can the virtual tour of the hospital be a single person video recording, starting from the drive into the hospital, to eliminate people visiting and slowing down the healthcare process for those in need?

A:    There is a virtual tour and In the Know-cchi (ITK) video available on the Aviano App and here

. You can view the entire ITK series of videos discussing life in Italy here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMpIcR5hNs4gjcOc8yA0wcf0U97W0YlPx

 

Sick Call

Q:  Is Flight Medicine opening up a sick call again?

A:    Right now patients in Flight Medicine have great access and are able to seen, in most cases, the same day. The 31st MDG Medical Services Flights do offer a walk-in Sick Clinic from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. for patients that are not Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) or Army Use of Force (AUoF), and older than 15 years of age (Area 1, Main Clinic Building 121).  The clinic can treat: Upper Respiratory Infections, Common Cold, Seasonal Allergies, Sore Throats, and Urinary Tract Infection (females only).