- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (AP) - The director of the USO center in Jacksonville, described as the oldest operating one in the world, is no longer on the job, and neither she nor the organization is saying why.

The Daily News of Jacksonville reports (https://bit.ly/1VpXUqa) Deb Fisher’s last day in the position she held for more than five years was in February. USO of North Carolina President John Falkenbury said the reason for Fisher’s departure is a personnel matter.

Fisher said the center’s expenses typically are more than its revenue.

“We were losing a lot of money before I got there,” she said in an interview with the newspaper. “And that (loss) was cut by two-thirds, by regaining community support and retirees’ support and veterans’ support. And begging.”

Fisher said she plans to return to family in Cleveland, Ohio.

The USO website describes the Jacksonville location as the oldest operating USO center in the world. Construction on it began in 1941.

The latest financial information available from the state USO showed an increase of $100,000 in fiscal years 2012 to 2013, the newspaper reported. During that period, Falkenbury’s salary increased almost $10,000 to $94,700 in 2013, according to the nonprofit’s tax documents.

The salaries of all directors and assistant directors of USOs in North Carolina also increased then, Falkenbury said. Those salaries are not listed in tax documents.

Falkenbury, who joined the USO in March 2009, said the organization’s mission has grown and diversified after more than a decade of war. He said salary increases have stemmed from those expanding services.

“So many people think the USO is about airport lounges and entertainment,” Falkenbury said. “That ain’t us. We’re supporting what the base has and, in many cases, we’re filling some gaps.”

The center also is no longer open on weekends, a decision that Fisher says was made in December and was effective Feb. 1. She said the center, which overlooks the New River, should be open on weekends because that’s when tourists often visit.


Information from: The Daily News, https://www.jdnews.com

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