FLW officials issue new procedures preventing repeat of false food reports
By: Darrell Todd Maurina
Posted: Saturday, June 5, 2010 5:26 pm
FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (June 5, 2010) — In a follow-up response to the false report that Fort Leonard Wood had placed eight area restaurants on a list of establishments that had been barred from receiving unit funds, post officials have not only retracted the e-mail but also have now issued a statement explaining new procedures to prevent the problem from happening again.
In a press release issued Thursday afternoon, post officials stated that “Fort Leonard Wood regrets the erroneous email message to unit fund managers which recently circulated listing non-approved restaurants.”
“We rescinded the erroneous message and implemented improved processes to avoid future errors in the use of unit fund monies in local establishments,” the press release stated. “Effective immediately, all inquiries regarding use of unit fund monies must be submitted in writing to Preventive Medicine. No verbal or telephone inquiries will be permitted. All written replies will be reviewed by GLWACH's Deputy Commander for Clinical Services. We do not anticipate future problems with this process.”
The post’s original response issued last week stated that "There are currently no dining establishments prohibited from receiving unit funds for the purchase of goods and services because of failed health inspections."
Responding to media inquiries Friday, post officials indicated that no list actually exists of disapproved restaurants, or for that matter, any other businesses prohibited from receiving unit funds for any reason.
The only “list” in existence, according to Fort Leonard Wood personnel, is the off-limits list. Military personnel are currently barred from going to Dutchman’s Liquidators, Daisy’s Health Spa, and Electra’s.
Dutchman’s sells items which post officials have previously stated could be used as drug paraphernalia, though the items are legal for sale.
Daisy’s Health Spa has been under investigation by local police for illegal activity; although Sheriff J.B. King confirmed that he’s investigated the establishment, he has said he’s not been able to make a case that any illegal activity actually happens at that establishment.
Electra’s is now closed, but was a strip club later converted into a bar and grill at which a Louisiana National Guard officer in training at Fort Leonard Wood died after being crushed to death by a car driven by a Fort Leonard Wood soldier.
“All others go through the same Disciplinary Board hearing process like the off-limits places above,” said post spokesman Jeff Maddy. “As long as that establishment sells something unit funds can pay for, and they accept those funds, unit funds can be used.”
The main exception, Maddy said, is alcohol.
“Beer and wine must be purchased at the Class 6 store, so any establishment that sells those products would not get ‘that’ sale,” Maddy said. “Army policy on beer and wine sales is the only ‘process,’ and that is policy Army-wide for unit funds and commander's approval to purchase beer and wine from Class 6 store only.”
The problems began when Pala Johnson of DFMWR Unit Funds on Fort Leonard Wood sent out an e-mail stating that a “new listing for approved vendors is out” and named eight restaurants that, according to the e-mail, “have been DISAPPROVED because they failed their health inspection.”
That e-mail was widely disseminated via forwarding by members of Family Readiness Groups and posted on various internet message boards, including Leonard Wood Underground and the Pulaski County Web.
The Pulaski County Web is a local community discussion site which hosts article comments for the Pulaski County Daily News but is under separate ownership and editorial control. While the comments on Leonard Wood Underground remained unchallenged for days, shortly after the comments appeared on the Pulaski County Web, the manager of Domino’s Pizza in St. Robert, one of the businesses wrongly named on the e-mail, contacted Rick Lepard, the owner of the Pulaski County Web, who quickly posted the Domino’s Pizza response to the Fort Leonard Wood e-mail.
That led to extensive media attention and the formal retraction by Fort Leonard Wood officials.