Survey: Cannon support continues

By Marlena Hartz : Freedom Newspapers

More than a dozen people huddled around the television, awaiting word from the Department of Defense on the future of Cannon Air Force Base.

Diana Wike, a civilian employee of Cannon, had paused from her daily routine along with the group, assembled inside the base’s dining hall. Her job, and the jobs of roughly 600 other civilian employees at the base, depended on whether or not Cannon would be recommended for closure in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round, a process created to streamline military installations around the nation.

When defense officials announced Cannon was recommended for closure, a sense of unbelief crashed through the crowd.

“We were all very upset and shocked,” said Wike, a manager of dining facilities and clubs at Cannon.
A year has passed since that day.

Business in eastern New Mexico dipped in the weeks that followed. Construction projects were halted. The real estate industry grew stagnant. Slowly, business in the area has regained its momentum, according to business officials.

But time has not dampened the region’s support for Cannon Air Force Base. And residents of eastern New Mexico still regard the base as an integral economic cog.

A bulky 92 percent of eastern New Mexico residents recently surveyed by the Freedom Newspapers want Cannon to receive a new mission. FNNM conducted a telephone survey of eastern New Mexico residents from Clovis, Portales, Texico and Melrose. Fifty residents were chosen at random to participate in the survey.

Residents gave Cannon an average rating of 8 (out of 10) in economic importance to the region.

But residents are more ambivalent when it comes to measuring the actual impact of last summer’s BRAC decision on the region, according to the survey results.

That decision placed Cannon in “enclave” status. A federal BRAC commission promised Cannon’s fleet of jets to various installations across the nation, and simultaneously requested Department of Defense officials find a new mission for the installation or shutter it before the brink of 2010.

Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed indicated the long BRAC process — born for Cannon, and eastern New Mexico on May 13, 2005, and yet to end — has negatively impacted the region. Thirty-four percent said the BRAC decision has not negatively impacted the region. Four percent were not sure what impact it had on the region.

For Wike, whose livelihood is tied to Cannon, the 366 days that have passed since May 13, 2005, have brought a sense of peace. The knot that rooted in her stomach on the day defense officials announced Cannon was recommended for closure is nearly gone, she said.

“I am hopeful for the future of Cannon. Actually, I am kind of excited (for the future). I am pretty sure the base will get a new mission,” she said.

OVERALL PROFILE OF SURVEY
RESPONDENTS:
60 percent were female.
40 percent were male.

Average age: 48

66 percent were Caucasian.
22 percent were Hispanic.
8 percent were African American.
4 percent were of another ethnicity.

Do you want Cannon to receive a new mission?
92 percent said yes.
8 percent said no.

Do you think the BRAC decision relating to Cannon has negatively impacted eastern New Mexico?
58 percent said yes.
34 percent said no.
4 percent were unsure.

Those surveyed gave Cannon an economic importance rating of 8, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important.

CLOVIS
Do you want Cannon to receive a new mission?
97 percent said yes.
3 percent said no.

Do you think the BRAC decision relating to Cannon has negatively impacted eastern New Mexico?
60 percent said yes.
33 percent said no.
7 percent were unsure.

Those surveyed gave Cannon an economic importance rating of 9, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important.

PORTALES
Do you want Cannon to receive a new mission?
100 percent said yes.

Do you think the BRAC decision relating to Cannon has negatively impacted eastern New Mexico?
60 percent said yes.
30 percent said no.
10 percent were unsure.

Those surveyed gave Cannon an economic importance rating of 8, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important.

RURAL CURRY
COUNTY
(Melrose and Texico)
Do you want Cannon to receive a new mission?
70 percent said yes.
30 percent said no.

Do you think the BRAC decision relating to Cannon has negatively impacted eastern New Mexico?
50 percent said yes.
40 percent said no.
10 percent were unsure.

Those surveyed gave Cannon an economic importance rating of 7, on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most important.