U-Fix-It shops save time, money on JBER

Wednesday, September 7, 2011 - 20:00
SFC Russell Slouffman, A Co, 425th BSB HHC, is helped by Amanda Knight, the U-Fix-it clerk. The U-Fix-It office on Ft. Richardson is where service members can request items to maintain and do small repairs for their on-base housing.

That towel rack in the bathroom finally gave way, and there are a dozen nail-holes in the wall from where the four-year-old got into the tool box.

Don’t worry — the U-Fix-It shops on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are here to help.

“The intent is for residents to take pride in ownership,” said Wendy Mekinda, general manager at Aurora Military Housing. “It also provides continuity in the units - the same light bulbs, the same towel bars. It’s a convenience; they can pick things up for free, and they’re also learning a skill.”

The shops save money. Service members and family don’t have to go off-base to buy supplies and the housing office saves money by not having to send a technician, said Mekinda. It also promotes safety, as the shops provide ice-melting salt, ice chippers, and other tools to keep homes well-groomed.

One shop is behind the Aurora Military Housing office on Arctic Warrior Drive; the other is in Building 670 on the Richardson side, which just opened.

The shops are especially useful to those changing duty stations, Mekinda said.

They provide replacement fixtures, carpet shampooers, and blind cleaners that cut cleaning time from about an hour to about fifteen minutes.

“Especially for people making permanent change-of-station moves, it saves a lot of time,” Mekinda said. They loan out black lights for checking carpets and walls for damage.

Since Aurora uses the lights in final inspections, it allows people to check their home and do any necessary cleaning.

Fire extinguishers, light bulbs, furnace filters and other replacement items are a one-for-one exchange - bring your expired extinguisher or old compact fluorescent light bulb and get a new one.

Any repairs done with U-Fix-It items are considered no harm, no foul - if you install that towel bar incorrectly, you won’t be charged when you move.

“Paint is a big one,” Mekinda said. “Putty and paint for repairs are provided, along with drop cloths, masking tape, and that sort of thing - they’re free.”

They also offer topsoil, landscaping timbers, grass seed and other things for springtime fix-ups. There is a screen table for repairing torn window screens.

The new shop also has a laser engraver for making name, unit and rank signs for homes; it will be available this month.

The shops do not issue power tools, however.

“People can go to Outdoor Recreation to get lawn equipment,” she said. Ladders, saws, drills and extension cords can be dangerous, so Aurora cannot offer them.

Starting Nov. 1, they plan to bring out winter items. Customers can take two 25-pound bags of ice-melting salt each month.

“It will last a long time if it’s used properly,” Mekinda said.

People moving out are encouraged to leave items like salt in the garage for the next tenant, as long as it isn’t solidified and is usable.

“They can leave that stuff when they PCS,” she said. “It’s not a problem to bring it back. We just ask that they don’t sell it at a garage sale or something.”

They can also return unused items to the U-Fix-It stores to be given to someone else.

Most tools can be borrowed for 24 to 72 hours before they need to be returned.

The U-Fix-It shops are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The JBER-E store is also open Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with a closure from noon to 1 p.m. for lunch.

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