Col. Stewart is taking command of Fort Meade

July 28, 1999|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

With soldiers marching and flags flying, Col. John D. Frketic will hand over command of Fort Meade to Col. Michael J. Stewart this morning.

The change-of-command ceremony is a time-honored tradition in the military, and it is taking place at what has become a nontraditional post.

As Frketic moves on to a three-year position as an assistant to the commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Brussels, Belgium, he leaves behind a garrison teeming with tenants who lease space from the federal government.

That's similar to the situation Frketic found when he arrived at Ford Meade two years ago, replacing Col. David Toops, who visualized a campus atmosphere for the base. The vision came to fruition under Frketic's command.

Stewart will oversee the continuing transformation. Two projects he will work on are privatizing utilities and bringing a hotel to the post, Frketic said.

Under Frketic's command, there has been increased interest in Fort Meade as a place to do business, despite findings that it is severely polluted.

Several companies that work closely with the military or the National Security Agency have moved, or are planning to move, to the post, where the federal government leases space at little charge.

Since Frketic has been in command, the Defense Information School -- a military media school -- and a unit of the Environmental Protection Agency have made Fort Meade their home.

Last year, the post was placed on the EPA's list of the most-polluted sites in the country. The new commander will have to deal with those environmental problems.

Pub Date: 7/28/99

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