Group forming to tackle Cannon growth issues

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers

The framework will soon be laid for a volunteer group that will consider growth challenges that may arise with the new mission at Cannon Air Force Base, according to officials.

As Cannon transitions into the home of the 16th Air Force Special Operations Wing, issues of infrastructure will likely be the principle concern of the group, said Clovis Mayor David Lansford.

The Wing is scheduled to assume ownership of Cannon in October 2007, according to the Air Force.

“We are looking at some possible housing issues, which means street, curbs, gutters and waste management issues. We are looking at public safety issues, and growth issues in health care and the school system,” Lansford said.

Details concerning the yet-to-be formed group will be discussed next week during a meeting between eastern New Mexico leaders and representatives from the Office of Economic Adjustment, a federal agency designed to provide resources to communities affected by Department of Defense base closures and realignments, according to Lansford.

“We provide technical assistance to communities impacted by defense changes, and in some cases financial assistance,” said David Witschi, one of two OEA project managers assigned to help the communities surrounding Cannon Air Force Base.

Thus far, the communities have not requested OEA funds, Witschi said.

Determining exactly what the region needs to do to prepare for the new mission is exactly why the group is being formed, Lansford said. Some of the group’s elements have already been envisioned, Lansford said.

Eleven volunteers will be appointed to the group by the Local Growth Management Committee, an association of government leaders from Portales, Clovis and Curry and Roosevelt counties, Lansford said.

“We want an organization that can serve as a single voice between both communities,” said Lansford, who is spearheading the effort to form the group, which he said will act as a liaison between the Office of Economic Adjustment and the four government entities of Clovis, Portales and Roosevelt and Curry counties.

Committee officials would like to appoint three volunteers to serve as general leaders and six volunteers to serve as experts in the group, Lansford said. Two additional members would be appointed by the governor, he said.

“We want people that are capable of bringing a certain skill to the table.

For example, you may want someone who understands infrastructure, someone that understands the school systems, and someone that understands subdivision development,” he said. “Then we can hear their advice and adapt our budgets and policies according to their recommendations.”

Lansford said the group would regularly apprise Clovis, Portales, and Roosevelt and Curry county government entities of growth issues.

The Office of Economic Adjustment does not serve in that same capacity, Witschi said.

“We will be providing information to the community as opposed to advising the community,” he said.

What: Local Growth Management Committee meets with representatives from the Office of Economic Adjustment, a federal agency designed to help BRAC-affected communities

When: 9 a.m. Aug. 16

Where: Clovis City Hall