Consultant hired to help area adjust to base changes

By Karl Terry: Freedom New Mexico

After nearly a year of meetings and preparation, community transition efforts related to Cannon Air Force Base’s new mission are about jump into high gear, according to members of the Local Growth Management Organization.

Lonnie Leslie, LGMO president, said Keystone International of Albuquerque has been selected as consultant to head a transition study that will be conducted over the coming months.

The one-year contract is for $542,775, with the federal government footing 90 percent of the bill.

The city of Clovis will pay $28,138, Portales and Curry County $11,255 and Roosevelt County $5,627.

The study will focus on multiple tasks, including impacts of the new mission on education, housing, health care and infrastructure such as roads and utilities, according to Leslie.

“It’s a very comprehensive document that can be useful to both the cities and both the counties for years to come,” Leslie said.

Meanwhile, LGMO officials are fine-tuning contract details in anticipation of Keystone starting in the next few weeks.

“Keystone had done work with Clovis in the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process, so they had worked with our communities and already established baseline information on the area, which gave them a leg up,” Leslie said. “The other thing is they’ve teamed with several companies in doing this, including engineering firms, hospital planning firms and companies dealing with economic development.”

LGMO Vice President Everett Frost said the change of command in itself has lent some excitement to the organization’s mission. He’s hopeful with Special Operations personnel now in control at Cannon, data on what the community can expect to see at Cannon will become clearer.

Frost added getting the chance to plan growth management in a regional area is also a big deal.

“It’s just not the kind of thing that happens in most cities and counties,” Frost said. “The region will get to know itself better and set itself up for growth management and change.”

Leslie said besides identifying challenges and possible solutions, Keystone is also charged with finding funding sources to address those problems.