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An employee of Facilities Maintenance Section Shop 71, which is in charge of maintaining roads and grounds aboard Marine Corps Base Quantico, trims hedges in front of Newlin Hall on a black-flag weather condition day, July 7.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Quantico puts its best face forward with help from FMS Shop 71

19 Jul 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

Instead of spring, summer, fall, and winter, for the employees of Facilities Maintenance Section (FMS) Shop 71—“Roads and grounds”—the year is divided into grass season, tree season, snow season, and pothole season.

“Grass and potholes, those are the two hot tickets,” said Brandon Lloyd, Shop 71 planner and “right arm” to Shop Supervisor Roger Evans, Jr.

“Those are the ones we get the most calls about,” Evans agreed.

Shop 71, with 43 employees, is responsible for roads and grounds on all 86.169 square miles (55,148 acres) of Marine Corps Base Quantico—both main side and west side. Two-thirds of the employees are stationed on the west side of base, where The Basic School and the rifle ranges are located.

“When you drive on base, everything should look good,” Evans said. “That’s our responsibility.”

“A few years ago, we inherited 30-40 percent more grass responsibilities,” David Miles, FMS maintenance and repair director, said. This was due to the Marine Corps dropping contracts with outside companies for maintenance because of budget restrictions. The shop also operates with about 15 fewer employees than they need to be fully staffed. Individual commands used to be responsible for mulching and landscaping around their headquarters buildings, but these tasks too have largely been turned over to the shop.

However, Miles said the shop employees are adaptable and able to accomplish a lot with limited resources.

“If they can’t do something, they always give a legitimate reason,” he said. “They never give excuses like a lot of people do.”

Shop 71, which is one of six maintenance shops aboard MCBQ, employs engineer equipment operators, motor vehicle operators, laborers, concrete finishers, and tree cutters. Evans said that there is high turnover among the laborers, but the other employees usually stay with the shop for many years. Marshall “Woody” Woodward, work leader, has been at Shop 71 for close to 40 years.

Besides cutting grass, removing snow, and fixing potholes, Shop 71 can be called out to repair fences, cut up downed trees, clean up trash, fill sink holes, and even respond to forest fires or other emergencies.

“We’re the go-to shop for getting things taken care of on base,” Lloyd said. “We’re the ones who get called to rectify things.”

When a coal train derailed near Officer Candidates School two years ago, Shop 71 helped with the clean-up. It also once sent trucks to keep the HMX-1 hangars from flooding. Earlier this summer, the Martin Street underpass leading to Marine Corps University flooded twice in two weeks with water reaching four feet above the tunnel. Shop 71 was responsible for cleaning out the mud with a vacuum truck and a fire hose once the water receded.

In an emergency situation, such as a snowstorm or flooding, Shop 71 employees are on-call 24/7. Lloyd said that these situations can be the best times for the shop.

“Those can be the most fun because it’s when you see the best come out,” he explained. “Everyone here knows that we’re essential and they know to expect the unexpected. If they don’t see it that way, something’s wrong.”

“A lot of the time, we’re taking lemons and making lemonade,” Evans said.

The job’s unpredictable nature is what many employees like most about it, Evans and Lloyd said.

“It’s not monotonous and you don’t get bored,” Evans said.

“There’s never a dull moment,” Lloyd agreed. “And there’s always camaraderie.”

Evans and Lloyd said they appreciate the base community letting them know about problems they see but they also appreciate patience.

“These guys work systematically,” Miles said. “Know that you’re on the schedule, you haven’t been forgotten.”

“Overall, this shop does a good job,” he continued. “They’re a bunch of good guys who work hard.”

Writer: auphausconner@quanticosentryonline.com
Marine Corps Base Quantico