By Tonya Garner and Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
Personnel from Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Fla., arrive in eastern New Mexico today for a two-day visit to scout the area in preparation for next year’s arrival of the 16th Special Operations Wing.
The state of New Mexico and the communities of eastern New Mexico are hosting the visit by 46 military officers, airmen and their spouses, according to a news release from Clovis city officials.
The itinerary for the AFSOC visitors includes stops in Clovis, Portales and Cannon Air Force Base.
An extensive tour of Cannon Air Force Base, meetings with local civic leaders and an assessment of infrastructure will allow AFSOC personnel to return to Hurlburt Field with valuable information for the Air Force personnel who will call the Clovis-Portales area home in 15 months.
According to Cannon advocate Randy Harris, the group will hear five-minute presentations today from the Clovis Fire Department, Plains Regional Medical Center, Clovis Municipal Schools and law enforcement.
The group will then tour Clovis residential areas, Clovis Community College, schools and medical facilities. A private banquet in their honor is scheduled at the Clovis Civic Center.
Harris said the tour is meant to say, “Here’s your new home — welcome.”
During their stay in Portales, the AFSOC visitors will tour Eastern New Mexico University, Roosevelt General Hospital and Portales Junior High, visit a house at Cannon Meadows and make a final stop at the Do Drop In by the downtown square. The gathering at the Do Drop In allows for the public to visit with AFSOC representatives.
Debi Lee, Portales city manager, said she will give a presentation to about 50 special crew personnel and their family members about the quality of life, a low crime rate and job opportunities for military spouses at a noon luncheon in the ballroom of the ENMU Campus Union Building.
Lee said Marshall Stinnett of military affairs has helped put the welcoming visit together.
Amie Franz of the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce said Chamber employees put together gift bags with certificates from local businesses and a DVD with footage of Portales, among other things, to give to the visitors. Franz said if she gets a chance to talk to one of them, she knows what she would say.
“That it’s (Portales) a warm, friendly, family-oriented place to raise your children,” Franz said. “My husband is retired military and we chose to stay here because it’s a great place to live.”