Reaction to BRAC closing ranges from shock to apathy

Clovis hairstylist Kristal Hailey said “in a way I care, in a way I don’t” about the possibility of Cannon Air Force base closing when asked Saturday at the Clovis Wal-Mart. (Staff photo: Ryn Gargulinski)

By Ryn Gargulinski: CNJ staff writer

Some Saturday Wal-Mart shoppers had more on their minds than hamburger meat and cottage cheese. Many were still reeling from Friday’s news that Cannon Air Force Base could close.

“It broke my heart,” said Donna Simpson after seeing the Cannon announcement on television.

Donna Simpson and her husband, Stan, a retired military man who’s lived in Clovis since 1981, vowed to do what they could, especially through their VFW club, to help support Cannon during the next three months when efforts will be made to remove Cannon from the closure list.

“People don’t realize what this means,” said Stan Simpson, noting that local schools will lose state and federal aid if Cannon closes and that many local businesses would likely see a decline in sales.

Clovis resident Ruth Gibson speculated on the impact the base closing could have on the railroad. “Some trains wouldn’t even stop here anymore,” Gibson said, “They’d just roll on through.”

Married to a retired railroad worker and living in Clovis 35 years, Gibson’s family heard the news from her daughter, a military wife, before the official announcement was made.
“This town would die down,” said Gibson’s son, Randy. “I’d even move if I had to, if this town is going to go under.”

The Gibsons said they would surely get involved in rallies or protests to help save the base.

Lifelong Clovis resident Rito Lopez said he was “in awe” of Friday’s news.

“I didn’t think it would happen,” the Cameo Elementary teacher said. “Clovis has gone out of their way to do everything they can for Cannon.

“The future depends on that base,” Lopez said, adding that it took years for Roswell to rebuild after its base was closed in 1967.

Clovis hairstylist Kristal Hailey speculated she may lose some of her clients if the population dips because Cannon closes, but otherwise remained unconcerned.

“In a way I care, in a way I don’t,” Hailey said. “I don’t want Clovis to get smaller, but I really don’t have anything to do with them (the people at the base),” adding the only clients she gets from Cannon are the occasional military wives.

Others were even more ambivalent, including lifelong Clovis resident Tori Isbell.

“I just shrugged,” Isbell said when her grandfather, who works in real estate, told her the Cannon news. The Texico Junior High student said she would not mind if the Clovis population diminished due to the base closing and said the base really does not impact her life in any way.