Roosevelt County pledges money to base effort

By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers

Roosevelt County commissioners are in, making it all four government entities in Curry and Roosevelt counties donating money towards lobbying efforts to keep Cannon Air Force Base open.

Commissioners approved a $50,000 donation into the funding for lobbying and marketing efforts to keep Cannon Air Force Base open. The vote was 4-1, with Roosevelt County chairmen Dennis Lopez, Gene Creighton, Paul Grider voting for the $50,000 to be donated to the cause.

Commissioner Tom Clark voted against the motion. Clark made it clear that he was for the effort to keep Cannon open, but wanted some economic impact numbers on how Roosevelt County would be affected if Cannon is shuttered.

So far, the state of New Mexico has pledged $300,000, Clovis $250,000, Portales $100,000, Curry County $100,000 and the Committee of Fifty $50,000.

Marshall Stinnett, supporter of Cannon and a member of the statewide Military Base Planning Commission, said he could not produce definite numbers on the economic impact to Portales and Roosevelt County, but he said that $5 million in payroll at Cannon’s 801 Housing in Portales would be lost.

Trina Valdez, director of federal programs for Portales schools, said 118 students (16 percent) from kindergarten up to 12th grade come to the school by way of Cannon. Stinnett said the 118 students translates to a loss of $400,000 to the Portales School District budget from state funding.

Christopher Erickson, a New Mexico State University economist, projects the closure of Cannon will result in the loss of 7,000 jobs — 6,000 of those in Curry County and the other 1,000 from the surrounding area.

Erickson said an economic impact model was used to come up with the estimates, using information from a 2003 economic impact study of all four bases in New Mexico and Department of Commerce surveys that track military spending.

He said the reason for the 7,000 is because of what he calls a multiplier effect, which takes into account losses incurred by contractors, school teachers hired based on the enrollment of base children and auto mechanics hired for military personnel.

Also on Thursday, the Melrose Village Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting the effort to keep Cannon open.

“The village of Melrose is behind Cannon 100 percent, and whatever we can do, we are there to help,” Melrose Village Councilor Lance Pyle said.