By David Irvin
In a show of solidarity Thursday night, community leaders announced they will aggressively work toward removing Cannon Air Force Base from the Base Realignment and Closure list in the event the base ends up on it.
The Department of Defense has until May 16 to submit a list of military installations to the BRAC committee. However, the DoD could submit the list as early as Tuesday, according to some reports.
“I consider that (Cannon being on the list) a request for divorce between two people happily married,” said Clovis Mayor David Lansford, speaking at a press conference at Clovis-Carver Public Library.
The impending list, while not final in its scope, has community leaders anxiously awaiting word from Washington.
“At this point we’re … sitting on pins and needles until we find out,” said Terry Moberly, chairman of the Committee of Fifty, which works to promote and improve the air base.
Randy Harris, also on the Committee of Fifty, spoke about the military value of Cannon Air Force Base, and the effort put forth over the last 50 years to establish a strong relationship between the community and the air base.
He spoke of the close proximity of the bombing range to the base, the supersonic air space, and a lack of encroachment as indications of Cannon’s military strength. But all these factors didn’t happen by themselves, he said.
“It came from a lot of hard work for a lot of years,” Harris said.
The city commission approved $250,000 Thursday to be used to lobby for Cannon Air Force Base if it is on the initial list. According to the approved request for proposal, the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce will hire a firm to defend the air base from closure during this BRAC round.
Officials have said the contract is for the purpose of having a “mechanism” in place to act quickly in the event Cannon ends up on the list.
The Committee of Fifty has already hired a consultant firm, Piper Rudnick, to monitor and relay information about the process to New Mexico lawmakers, officials said.
The Pentagon has said it plans to shut down roughly 25 percent of the nation’s 425 military installations. However, recent statements by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld indicate the cuts may not be that severe.
It has been estimated Cannon Air Force Base has a $202.1 million a year economic impact on the area. About $121 million of that goes toward military payroll on the base, estimates show.
If the base is actually chosen for closure through the BRAC process, Lansford said he is confident Clovis, Portales and the surrounding communities would “overcome.”