Local committee gains advisor

By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor

The Office of Economic Adjustment will fill a mostly advisory role in addressing growth issues associated with Cannon Air Force Base’s new Special Operations mission, according to OEA project manager David Witschi.

In Wednesday’s joint meeting between the Local Growth Management Organization and its parent group, the Local Growth Management Committee, Witschi said the OEA gets involved once it becomes apparent that the net new personnel being assigned to a base reaches 2,000 or greater.

“We’re anticipating at this time that threshold is going to be made,” Witschi said.

“That’s why we’re here to proceed with this today.”

More than 4,000 active-duty members and civilians are currently stationed at Cannon, according to base officials.

Witschi said his main reason for addressing the groups was to explain to the members what assistance his office could provide.

“While we can help connect you up with folks in other federal agencies, we can’t bring you money from those agencies,” Witschi explained.

He told the groups as a branch of the Department of Defense the OEA could provide some financial means to help hire consultants to guide the growth management process.

Witschi said the group needed to focus on its protocols. He also said it would be essential to establish a communications director and develop strategies for getting information to the Air Force, OEA and to the public.

Lonnie Leslie of Clovis, who was elected as chairman of the LGMO, asked Witschi what the timing for hiring that consultant contractor should be.

Witschi said that would not need to happen until after the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the new mission was released in five to six weeks.

Col. Peggy Poore, commander of the 27th Mission Support Group at Cannon, said at the meeting, the final Environmental Impact Statement should be completed in June and final approval is expected by August.

The 16th Special Operations Wing is scheduled to take over the base in October.
Witschi urged the group to be patient and flexible because schedules, data and programs will likely change.

“It’s basically a marathon, not a sprint,” Witschi said. “Things are going to change — not necessarily in your favor. Time is on your side though, take the time and do this right.”

Fast Facts

LGMO — Local Growth Management Organization. Recently selected, this group will do the heavy lifting in planning for growth as Cannon Air Force Base’s mission changes. The group is made up of 11 members appointed by local governments and the governor, with most bringing a specific skill set to the table. Chairman is Lonnie Leslie, vice chair is Everett Frost.

LGMC — Local Growth Management Committee. This is the parent group to the LGMO and is made up of staff and elected officials from the cities of Portales and Clovis and the counties of Curry and Roosevelt. It will meet less frequently and be the oversight group back to each local government. Chairman is Clovis Mayor David Lansford.

OEA —Office of Economic Adjustment. An office of the Department of Defense charged with helping local governments and communities affected by military changes. They serve as advisors and the conduit to the various federal agencies and Department of Defense. Project managers are David Witschi and Gary Kuwabara.