By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
Clovis and Portales are not the only communities trying to keep Cannon Air Force Base open.
Portales Mayor Orlando Ortega and Clovis Mayor David Lansford traveled to Amarillo on Monday to talk about efforts to get Cannon off the Base Realignment and Closure list. Ortega said they spoke with Trent Sisemore, the outgoing Amarillo mayor, and Debra McCartt, the mayor-elect.
“We were quite surprised by their support,” Ortega said.
The Amarillo City Commission approved a resolution to oppose the CAFB closure. Ortega said Sisemore and McCartt were interested in traveling to Clovis for a press conference on June 23 when BRAC commissioners are scheduled to tour the base. Ortega said he will contact Roswell Mayor Bill Owen about attending a press conference also.
The citizens of Roswell know all too well the effects of a base closure. A third of Roswell’s population left in 1967, leaving closed businesses, schools and empty homes, according to an Associated Press report. By the time the base closed, 6,000 of Roswell’s 18,000 homes stood vacant, according to AP.
Roswell’s population peaked at 48,000 in 1967, before the base closed, but dropped to less than 34,000 three years later, according to the AP story. The town’s population in the 2000 Census was 45,293.
Hanson Scott, director of the office for military base planning and support, addressed the Keep Cannon Open Portales committee on Tuesday.
“We are preparing for the hearing (scheduled June 24 in Clovis),” Scott said.
Scott said he helped in the process to keep Kirtland Air Force Base open when it was on the base closure list 10 years ago.
“Military value is our main concern,” Scott said. “Encroachment was only 2 percent of military value. That’s only 2 percent out of 100 percent.”
Scott said Cannon’s encroachment value will be addressed to see if it will count more toward the scoring military officials used in proposing base closings.