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Deli delights — Commissary improvements total $700,000

Commissary employees Don Cauthen, left, and Sean O’Neill put finishing touches to a deli display case.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Commissary employees Don Cauthen, left, and Sean O’Neill put finishing touches to a deli display case. (U.S. Air Force photo by Kemberly Groue)

Charles Harrell, a retired lieutenant colonel from Moss Point, selects items from the new frozen food cases at the commissary.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Kemberly Groue)

Charles Harrell, a retired lieutenant colonel from Moss Point, selects items from the new frozen food cases at the commissary. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Kemberly Groue)

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The commissary is expected to open a deli Monday, just one of more than $700,000 in recent enhancements.

The commissary has been using the former Keesler Community Center as a temporary store since Hurricane Katrina gutted the previous location.

"We've added a new external freezer storage building, a produce storage building, four new freezer display cases, a new 10-ton air conditioning unit for the expanded freezer display area and five air conditioning drops above the registers," said store director Gordy Harris. "We also extended the awning for the receiving area.

"Soon, three more front doors are being installed to create a vapor lock," Mr. Harris explained. "One set of doors is supposed to close behind you before the other set opens, so outside air won't be pulled into the store. It helps keep the store cooler in summer and warmer in winter."

Mr. Harris said improvements have enabled the commissary to reset the entire frozen food section and add 50 new items.

"We've increased our store item file from 7,200 at opening to 8,900 today," he pointed out. "Sales almost doubled for the first few months of this fiscal year over last year's sales and have stabilized at 28 percent over last year. I expect sales to increase with the opening of the deli."