By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Not only are Clovis and Portales trying to keep Cannon Air Force Base open, but other parts of Eastern New Mexico and West Texas are contributing their support.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega and Clovis Mayor David Lansford traveled to Amarillo Monday to talk about the Keep Cannon Open effort. Ortega said they spoke with Trent Sisemore, the outgoing Amarillo mayor and Debra McCartt, the mayor-elect.
“We were quiet surprised by their support,” Ortega said. “They pledged their support to help us. If Cannon closes it’s going to hurt us. I think we’ve got a real good chance of turning this (decision to close the base) around.”
The Amarillo City Commission during a city meeting approved a resolution to oppose the CAFB closure. Ortega said Sisemore and McCartt were interested in traveling to Clovis for a press conference June 23. Ortega said he will contact Roswell Mayor Bill Owen about attending the press conference, also.
The citizens of Roswell know all too well the effect of a base closure. A third of Roswell’s population left in 1967, leaving closed businesses, schools and empty homes, according to an Associated Press report. By the time the base closed, 6,000 of Roswell’s 18,000 homes stood vacant, according to the AP story.
Roswell’s population peaked at 48,000 in 1967, before the base closed, but dropped to less than 34,000 three years later, according to the AP story. The town’s population in the 2000 Census was 45,293.
Hanson Scott, director of the office for military base planning and support, addressed the Keep Cannon Open Portales committee on Tuesday.
“We are preparing for the hearing,” Scott said.
Scott said he helped in the process to keep Kirtland Air Force Base open when it was on the base closure list 10 years ago.
“Military value is our main concern,” Scott said. Encroachment was only 2 percent of military value. That’s only 2 percent out of 100 percent.”
Scott said the encroachment value will be addressed to see if it will count more towards the scoring. For example, CAFB has a crosswind runway and Scott wants to know how that stacks up with bases with only one runway.
“Crosswind” gets its designation because the airport’s prevailing winds are less likely to flow down aircraft, according to the Landrum Brown Web site. The departures off of the crosswind are preferred and safer, because the wind is flowing in that direction.
Marshall Stinnett, CAFB supporter and Military Base Planning Commission member, said U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici will begin the presentation then Committee of Fifty member Randy Harris will do a portion of the presentation during the regional hearing. Stinnett said Chad Lydick, also a member of the Committee, will present the economic impact part of the presentation and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will give the closing remarks.
Portales City Manager and Keep Cannon Open Portales Committee member Debi Lee said there are 1,433 tickets available for the auditorium and alternate buildings next to the auditorium which can seat up to 3,800 people.
Sharon Davis of the Keep Cannon Open Portales Committee will be working with Beverlee McClure, president of Clovis Community College, in the hospitality aspect. McClure is handling all the arrangements for the June 24 regional hearing in Clovis.
Mike Miller of the Keep Cannon Open, Portales committee, has been in talks with Dickie Shearer, Portales school bus contractor, about use of the school buses to transport people to the event. The committee members decided that if there are any community groups or residents interested in riding in the buses to Clovis, they can call the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce at 356-8541.