Cannon supporters advised to be prepared

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

The advice of base redevelopment veteran Eric Williams resonated Tuesday at a meeting of Clovis and Portales jurisdiction representatives.

The executive director of Reese Technology Center, a business campus which stands in lieu of Reese Air Force Base, told the same group last Wednesday to, above all, be prepared.

If the BRAC Commission votes to keep Cannon Air Force Base open, Williams said Tuesday from his office in Lubbock, “chances are great that the mission will in fact expand.”

That would be just as “difficult as losing the base,” the self-described Clovis-Portales business mentor said.

“You have to gear up very quickly for an orderly growth project — orderly is the key word,” Williams said. “If they close, the same thing is true in reverse.”

Tuesday’s meeting continued the redevelopment and expansion discussion.

Clovis-Portales county and city representatives agreed to form a redevelopment or expansion committee. The model for its formation is based on Lubbock’s redevelopment committee, assembled 10 years ago when Reese was targeted for closure.

The Clovis-Portales committee, leaders agreed, will be comprised of eight members, two pulled from each entity’s commission. The committee will address immediate issues that may arise following the BRAC Commission’s late August decision, which will shutter Cannon or keep the base open, pending presidential approval of the BRAC list.

“This is a twofold system that will work both for the expansion or the redevelopment of Cannon. We (as government entities) have the responsibility of laying the framework so we can maximize the benefit of expansion or minimize the affect of a closure,” Clovis Mayor David Lansford said.

County Commission Chairperson Ed Perales said that he would add the election of two county committee members to the next county meeting agenda.

“I am an advocate of being prepared for the best case scenario and the worst case scenario,” Perales said. Other commission officials indicated that they would not do the same, and would instead merely discuss election at their next meetings.

Lansford presented a preliminary model for the formation of a redevelopment or expansion authority. In his two-step vision, the Senate-like redevelopment or expansion committee would elect a House of Representatives-like authority, comprised of nine individuals — two Curry County and Clovis officials, one Portales or Roosevelt official, and six citizens, each chosen to fill a specific skill set. The nine individuals would serve varying two- and four-year terms, and the committee would be rendered essentially inert after appointment of authority members.

Lansford said he carefully constructed the model to ensure equity for all four entities.

Some officials, however, worried taking action prior to the release of the revised BRAC list may send the commission the wrong message — that the community has given up on Cannon. Portales County Commissioner Gene Creighton said that there is plenty of time to take action after the decision is announced.

Yet others, such as Lansford, Perales, and County Commissioner Albin Smith, believe that being prepared, as Williams suggested, should be a Clovis-Portales priority.

“We are all a little bit scared about sending a signal that would say we are thinking negatively. I do believe we will get off the list,” Smith said. “But as of today, we are on it.

“It’s like going to camp,and not putting up a tent,” said the commissioner of reluctance to take action before the Sept. 8 list reaches the president’s desk. “Even if you want to sleep under the stars, you need to put a tent up.”