By Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer
Military value will be the main detail the Base Realignment and Closure committee will be looking at, but Portales residents are making sure to cover all of the angles by stressing the economic impact to Portales.
The Keep Cannon Portales committee, which works with CAFB supporters from Clovis, met on Wednesday to discuss the economic impact to Portales, the regional hearing on June 24 and the marketing aspect of the Keep Cannon project.
Marshall Stinnett, Kim Huffman and Debi Lee met with Clovis supporters on Tuesday to discuss the Keep Cannon project. They met with team members from the Clovis community, the New Mexico Office for Military Base Planning and Support, DLA Piper, Hyjek & Fix, Inc., Keystone and representatives from New Mexico’s legislative delegates.
Erin Ward, a New Mexico State University economist, is creating an economic impact analysis for Portales to go with the package for the BRAC committee members to read.
“My gut feeling is that perhaps the impact to Portales was not incorporated to the (economic) study,” Ward said. “We think ours will be more accurate and fair.”
Ward said the study showed 20.5 percent of the jobs in the region will be lost if the base is closed.
“That’s one in five jobs,” Ward said. “That’s unacceptable. I don’t think Portales was included. It could be worse.”
A direct economic effect on the Portales community would be to the Combs Electrical and Mechanical business. George Combs, owner of Combs Electric, said he has 20 employees on the staff and 18 of them are working on the runway lights at Cannon Air Force Base.
“Almost every building in Cannon Air Force Base is new,” Combs said. Combs, who is a retired Korean War veteran, said his company has been in existence since 1967 and has been doing contractual work with CAFB since then. “Every light and wire on the runway will be new. I’ve been to a lot of bases that look shady. You couldn’t ask for a better base than Cannon Air Force Base.”
Combs said his business will be hard-hit if the base closes.
“We have 18 employees working on the lighting project,” Combs said. “If the base closes, we will go south.”
Huffman said the consulting firms are working on a package which would show the military value of CAFB and what was missed by the base-closure recommendations. He said details such as awards for the best safety record, best maintenance and no combat losses and good weather should be taken into account when looking at the CAFB military value.
The Keep Cannon Portales committee members want Portales residents to travel to Marshall Junior High on June 24 for the regional hearing. The regional hearing will take place at 8:30 a.m. in the MJH auditorium. Committee members want transport people from Portales in school buses and arrive at the auditorium by 8 a.m.
City Councilor Mike Miller has been in talks with Dickie Shearer about having school buses to transport to Clovis. Shearer said he can have up to 26 school buses for the day of the hearing, according to Miller.
Stinnett said he will speak with Clovis Community College President Beverlee McClure, who he said was in charge of hospitality for the visit from the BRAC committee members, about being able to enter the MJH auditorium and the possibility of a parade. Stinnett said he will see if she can meet with the Keep Cannon Portales committee members about the details of the visit.