By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
The Portales aspect of the Operation Keep Cannon campaign is well under way with city officials and community leaders wanting as many people from Roosevelt County to be at the regional public hearing where Base Realignment and Closure committee members will be present.
The hearing is scheduled to take place at 8:30 a.m. on June 24 at Marshall Junior High in Clovis. Members of the Operation Keep Cannon group want citizens to show their support to keep Cannon Air Force Base open.
“We need to be in full-force,” Peter Thompson, Portales dentist, said. “The most important thing is that we be there.”
The group that met Friday morning at City Hall wants community members to send letters to the BRAC commission as soon as possible before the BRAC commission members begin their tour of the bases in the United States.
Ronnie Birdsong, the vice president of university relations at Eastern New Mexico University, said she didn’t believe much contact would be made with the BRAC commission following the hearing. The BRAC list will be submitted to George W. Bush on Sept. 8 and he has until Sept. 23 to approve or reject the military operations on the list.
“We have a window of opportunity,” Birdsong said. “We’ve had many people from the university ask how they could help.”
Birdsong said ENMU staff and students have been helping with the project by sending out letters, posting information on the ENMU Web site and inquired with businesses about T-shirts and designs.
Birdsong asked those who write letters to the BRAC commission need to put, “Keep Cannon Air Force Base” on the envelopes.
Mike Miller, city councilor, said he would find out about the possibilities of having public school buses transport people from Portales who want to show their support for CAFB to the Regional Public Hearing.
Kim Huffman, the director of the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce, said he would contact members of local churches about the campaign.
At the meeting, members said 200 red and yellow shirts were available to design with an ‘Operation Keep Cannon’ logo. They would like to have many of these shirts in hand to give to the people who are going to be riding the buses to Marshall Junior High on June 24.
Mayor Orlando Ortega, city manager Debi Lee and Ron Jackson were also present at the meeting.
“We can understand what would happen (to Portales) if Cannon Air Force Base is not here,” Ortega said. “We’ve been working on this day and night with our neighbors to the north. We feel confident we have a case to the BRAC commission.”
The Portales Operation Keep Cannon members have planned to meet each Tuesday at 2 p.m. in the Memorial Building to discuss the campaign. For information, call the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce at 356-8541.
The 2005 BRAC commissioners are:
l Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi, former secretary of veterans affairs.
l Former Nevada Rep. James H. Bilbray.
l Philip Coyle of California, a senior adviser to the Center for Defense Information.
l Retired Navy Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr.
l Former Utah Rep. James V. Hansen
l Retired Army Gen. James T. Hill
l Retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd “Fig” Newton
l Samuel Knox Skinner, who served as President George H.W. Bush’s chief of staff and as secretary of transportation.
l Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Sue Ellen Turner
Source: Department of Defense
To contact the commission:
2521 S. Clark St.
Arlington, VA 22002
Phone: (703) 699-2952