By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
A high-level Air Force official is to visit the region next week, according to military officials.
Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations, Environment and Logistics William Anderson will tour Cannon and the surrounding area on Jan. 4, said Air Force spokeswoman Shirley Curry.
It will be his first visit to Cannon, and is an effort “to show his personal commitment and involvement” in finding a new mission for the base, Curry said.
The base was selected for closure by the Department of Defense in May, but was voted off the closure list by a federal commission in August. The commission requested Department of Defense officials search for a new mission for the base, which is a crucial part of the region’s economy and will close by 2010, under a commission decree, if officials have not pinpointed a new mission.
Curry said the assistant secretary plans to meet with Cannon airmen, as well as community members. He will arrive in the region in the morning and have dinner with community leaders, she said.
Capt. Andre Kok of the Cannon Air Force Base public relations office said Anderson was appointed to his position a few weeks ago. Kok said several events are planned for his tour of the base.
Anderson heads three division departments involved at the policy level with Air Force facility and logistical issues. His responsibilities include military construction, base closure and realignment, safety and occupational health issues, and environment issues, according to his biography posted on the Air Force Web site, www.af.mil.
Clovis City Manager Joe Thomas said the visit bodes well for the future of Cannon. “I think (his visit) is fantastic. It is definitely good news,” Thomas said.
Cannon advocate Randy Harris also sees the visit as a positive sign.
“I think it is a great signal for all of us that he is willing to make a personal commitment to see firsthand what Cannon is all about,” Harris said.
The tour of the base will focus on the assets of Cannon, foremost its air space, Harris said.
Anderson is to visit Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque upon completion of his visit to Cannon and the surrounding area.