We need to concentrate on our resources

By Jim Lee: PNT columnist

Last week I spouted off about the proposed closure of Cannon Air Force Base, but I still haven’t used up all my hot air on the issue.
This is because practically nobody accepts that the closure is a done deal.
We have to change the minds of five Base Realignment and Closure commissioners, and five of them may not even show up for the base tour on June 23 and the public meeting on June 24.
This ought to tell somebody something.
This doesn’t mean we should give up and slink off with our tails between our legs. We have to try to keep CAFB, but we don’t have to jump off the pier. And we don’t need to put out bushels of $100 bills to lobbyists who take the money and run.
We should concentrate on our resources. It has been proven that a one-industry town takes an awful risk, a risk almost always unnecessary. If one dominating industry is successful and folks just live smug, complacent, lazy lives without looking past their own noses, that town or area (such as our own “microplex”) is playing Russian roulette.
In the years I have resided in this microplex, I have heard people complain of the lack of development. I have seen a few very dedicated people with foresight and a love of where they live work heroically for local development.
Yet, in spite of this and in spite of all the empty lip service from others, I have my doubts if the residents of this area actually wanted development.
The base in Clovis and the university in Portales have been taken for granted. Are we going to take them for granted now?
Yes, Eastern New Mexico University has been here since 1934 and won’t go away, right? Well, CAFB has been in the area almost that long, and it’s probably on its way out. We have to think about what we can do with what we have so we can be prosperous without being a one-industry wonder.
And it’s downright dumb to dump this all on the dairy industry. If everything is the dairy business, it’s still a one-industry wonder.
That’s not fair to the residents or the dairies.
What happens when the water is used up or fouled with nitrates? Then we lose the dairy industry, too. How will that solve our collective insecurity?
Last week, I asked for opinions and ideas on what we do now. No suggestions came. Does anybody care about what will happen to Portales and Clovis? My phone number and e-mail address appear at the end of this column every week. Letters to me can be sent to this paper with the investment of one postage stamp.
Has anyone thought about what happened to Roswell when Walker Air Force Base closed in 1967? A third of the population left. Businesses closed up. Houses perched on lots with nobody living in them.
Do we want that to happen here? Do we want businesses to refuse to come here because they think it’s a dead town? Do we want our property values to go the way of high-tech stocks? Do we want enrollment (and jobs) to dwindle at ENMU in addition to the effect from the base closure?
The closure will affect Clovis more than Portales in the short run, but Clovis has nearly triple the population and resulting resources. And Clovis will not have to cope with the ripple effect at ENMU.
Think about that. Does it bring any pictures to mind?
Zachary Montgomery, Roswell’s planning director, suggests that Clovis should concentrate on alternative industry now, just as I wrote here last week. This warning applies to Portales, too.
We don’t need a ghost microplex.

Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail:
dr_james_lee@hotmail.com