The new Fort Polk Commissary hosted its grand opening Nov. 12. Folks lined up along the store front on a blustery morning in anticipation of the ribbon-cutting and great deals.

FORT POLK — The new Fort Polk Commissary hosted its grand opening Nov. 12. Folks lined up along the store front on a blustery morning in anticipation of the ribbon-cutting and great deals.

Hulen Clark, an Air Force retiree, and his spouse Pat, attended the chilly grand opening. “Fort Polk has been very good to us. If we had to ask for anything else, I don’t know what it would be. We are excited about the commissary and came today to celebrate the grand opening. Knowing the military, this store is going to be a first class operation,” said Clark.

The new commissary, 7445 La. Hwy, bldg 601, boasts efficient and environmentally friendly features. Along with the extensive produce, meat and grocery departments, there is an international delicatessen and bakery, sushi to-go and rotisserie chicken sections, as well as wider isles and a spacious design.

This is another exciting day for Fort Polk, the best hometown in the Army, according to Brig. Gen. William Hickman, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commanding general.

He said there are several “shining jewels” in the Fort Polk crown, including an incredible education center, Berry Mission Training Complex, Post Exchange and the Joint Readiness Training Center. “Now we have a remarkable commissary as well,” Hickman said. “It’s just one more thing that makes Fort Polk special and shows our commitment to make the quality of life the best we can for our Soldiers, their Families and our retirees.”

Joseph H. Jeu, Defense Commissary Agency director and chief executive officer, opened his remarks by telling the dignitaries and waiting customers that he was delighted to be at the grand opening of the Fort Polk commissary. “I’ve had a good look inside and I’m proud to tell you that you have a lot to look forward to once you walk through those doors. You will experience a store designed to make your shopping enjoyable,” said Jeu.

He explained that the commissary was built using surcharge dollars — that’s the 5 percent added to your commissary receipt. “When I’m asked where the surcharge money goes, I tell people that it goes right back into your commissaries. It renovates old stores and builds new ones, as you can see from this brand new building,” said Jeu.

Edward Koerner, Fort Polk Commissary manager, said this store is a great improvement over the old one. “We have increased in size by 25 percent and have 3,000 more line items in stock for a better variety. I think our customers are going to have a great shopping experience that will really boost their morale. It makes me proud to be able to do that for Soldiers and their Families,” said Koerner.

The additional room is exciting to shopper Beth Carpenter. “The old commissary was so crowded in comparison,” she said.

Another shopper, Sgt. Jamie Cauley, 2-30 Infantry, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, said it’s gorgeous. “I think Soldiers who see this store are going to realize that Fort Polk is improving and that there is a real effort to make things better.”

On a personal level, Cauley said the new commissary would help her obtain a wider variety of quality products at an economical price. “I’m expecting and I can already see that there is a better variety of items on the baby aisle than there were at the old commissary,” said Cauley.

After looking around the store and filling her basket with items, Elly Bayless said she thought the commissary was awesome and that her Family would now be shopping here more than at stores off post.

“There is more variety and it’s set up really well,” said Bayless.

Alexandria Beverley said the store was so big that she would probably get a workout every time she went shopping.

“There’s so much room and things to choose from. I love it,” she said.

The grand opening seemed to be a success with many happy first-time customers and that’s just what DeCA wants, according to Jeu.

“Our goal is to make your shopping experience something to look forward to. It’s not enough to just have a new facility and low prices. Our objective is to provide great customer service and I want to thank you for allowing the men and women of DeCA to serve you and your families here at Fort Polk,” said Jeu.