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Noting his limited time left at Fort Knox, Col. Bruce Jenkins, garrison commander, thanked Radcliff for its commitment to the installation and encouraged the city to work in tandem with the post to market both communities as destinations.
Jenkins, who relinquishes his duties in July, addressed a portion of the business community Wednesday during the second Radcliff First luncheon, a monthly networking session created by Mayor J.J. Duvall as a forum for business owners to communicate ideas and suggestions for improving the city.
Jenkins encouraged businesses to spruce up their storefronts when needed and make Radcliff as attractive as possible.
He also cautioned businesses that the possibility of budget reductions on post and furloughs of federal employees could mean military families are forced to spend less this year at local businesses. Furloughs alone could lead to $32 million in lost income on post, according to Fort Knox officials.
At the same time, Jenkins extended an arm of welcome from Fort Knox, touting the All Star
access system as an innovation for post security. The system has drastically reduced the amount of wait time at gates by quickly scanning drivers’ licenses through a database system that ensures the motorist is eligible for entry. In doing so, it weeds out those who have been barred access to Fort Knox and clamps down on those wanted by law enforcement, Jenkins said.
Most importantly, it has created a safer and more open environment for those outside the gates to take advantage of the facilities at Fort Knox, he said.
“It’s a taxpayer treasure,” Jenkins said. “You need to come out and take advantage of it.”
To improve communication, an information networking system has been utilized with large screens and digital billboards to publicize events on post and advertisements for local businesses. Jenkins encouraged business owners to purchase advertising space on the system to spread the word about what they offer those on post.
Jenkins said Fort Knox started holding “quarterly huddles” with area communities to better sync up calendars so there is not a saturation of events on the same weekends. For example, the meetings should help Fort Knox and neighboring cities avoid scheduling 4th of July ceremonies at the same time, he said.
“I think we’re just scratching the surface,” he said.
Radcliff and Fort Knox worked closely on the recent expansion of Saunders Springs Nature Preserve after Fort Knox leased more than 70 acres to the city to improve and enhance hiking and biking trails.
Duvall said Jenkins has been one of the most active members from the post in the Radcliff community and recently found Jenkins on a weekend scooping up trash while he was driving down Wilson Road, which Duvall said shows Jenkins does not simply view Radcliff as a neighbor to Fort Knox.
“It’s also his home,” the mayor said.
As the luncheon wrapped up, Duvall said the city has developed new ideas through Radcliff First it plans to pitch to local businesses, including the possibility of a 10 percent Saturday where businesses offer their wares at a discount and point their customers to other businesses in town.
A trolley hop also was pitched as a way to highlight businesses to residents.
Unity as a business community, Duvall said, offers mutual benefits.
“It will help everyone in the long run,” he said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org