Since the day it opened in late 1941, Vance Air Force Base and the city of Enid have enjoyed a symbiotic, mutually beneficial relationship.

Nothing has changed, save for the fact the process is now being formalized.

The city and base have teamed to form the local Air Force Community Partnership Program group, through which civilian and military officials look for ways the city can benefit the base, and vice versa.

The overall Air Force Community Partnership Program was established in the fall of 2012, and to date has fostered more than 1,000 initiatives that have generated $23 million in benefit to the Air Force and $24 million in community benefit. The local arm of the AFCP has only been in effect since February, said Lt. Col. J.J. Loschinskey, deputy commander of the 71st Mission Support Group at Vance.

 The program differs at every base, with every community, said Loschinskey.

"Every aspect of the mission here at Vance is involved with it, along with just about anybody that has any interest in what the base is doing, is part of this partnership off-base, as well," he said.

Members of the program committee have had a series of meetings "that sort of identify what initiatives we're going to pursue," said Loschinskey, "and we start looking at all the nuances, like the things we can do, the things we can't do, the things that are going to take a little bit of work to make these initiatives come to fruition."

The next step is to hold a tabletop exercise later this month to begin drafting memorandums of agreement that more formally establish some already existing relationships, Loschinskey said.

"The process is to identify what the needs are on the base, some extra capabilities that we have, what some limiting factors are for those off-base organizations that have extra capabilities and what some of those limiting factors are, and mesh those together to come up with an agreement," said Loschinskey.

"The city has a long and rich history of partnering with Vance," said Jon Blankenship, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce. "We are looking for additional ways we can help save the military dollars on the operations side. There are going to be some good partnerships coming out of these meetings."

The emphasis on establishing public-to-public and public to private partnerships stemmed from the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Round, which recommended closure of the Army's Presidio of Monterey, Calif., and transfer of the Defense Language Institute. At that time Monterey started looking for ways to support its military neighbors, which included the Naval Postgraduate School. The city began providing firefighting, police and public works services for the military installations, at a 41 percent savings as compared to the previous federal and private service providers. The so-called Monterey Model has been the benchmark for public-public partnerships since 1998.

Those involved locally include city and county government officials, business and school leaders and those involved with non-profits, as well as leaders from the base.

"Everybody is considered a stakeholder that attends any of these meetings," Loschinskey said.

The executive committee consists of 71st Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Clark Quinn, Enid Mayor Bill Shewey, city of Enid military liaison and chairman of the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission Mike Cooper, former mayor and Vance Development Authority member Ernie Currier and Garfield County Commissioner Mark Bolz.

"This is a great effort," said Cooper. "Everybody needs to be doing this. It makes sense for the military and community to share services."

The first initiative hammered out by the group is an agreement with the Denny Price Family YMCA, which will allow Vance to use the Y's indoor track during inclement weather to conduct required physical training tests.

"We kind of looked to the YMCA as an example early on to say hey, we can get there, we can establish an agreement, we can find that common ground where it's sort of a win, win, everybody gets some benefit from this agreement," said Loschinskey.

Among the other areas being explored by the group, Loschinskey said, is a partnership with Enid Public Schools and Autry Technology Center.

"What we're looking to do is establish a more formal relationship with the school district when it comes to internships and mentorships," he said. "There's already a very strong relationship between the base and the district. We've got some capacity on base. We've got a lot of highly educated, highly energetic individuals to get out there into the schools to do something as simple as reading to a classroom, or it could be providing specific one-on-one mentorship to a student that is either struggling, or is a high achiever and looking to explore some specific area to better prepare themselves for whatever comes after school."

An internship program with EPS and Autry Technology Center, he said, would involve "Finding those opportunities to bring home-grown professionals here in Enid and getting them to meet some needs here on the base. That's one I think is going to happen here in the next few months."

Vance already has strong ties with Enid Woodring Regional Airport. In March of 2012, a $561,000, 120-by-120-foot joint use hangar was completed. The hangar accommodates both military and civilian aircraft. Last fall a $10 million extension of the main runway at Woodring was completed, lengthening it to 8,000 feet in order to allow T-38s from Vance to land and take off there.

"There are already a lot of agreements we have with Woodring Airport and we're looking to clarify and combine some of these agreements  to an all-encompassing, 'How can Woodring support that overall mission of developing pilots at Vance Air Force Base," said Loschinskey.

Those are in the short term, he said. In the longer term there will be projects considered like using the Enid landfill as an alternate means of generating electricity, Loschinskey said.

"There's a lot more information we're gathering," he said, "but that was one of things we're looking to develop."

Municipal services also will be studied, said Loschinskey.

"If the city is providing a municipal service, is it more cost-effective for the taxpayer for the base to piggy-back on capability the city already has," he said. "We haven't looked at any of those specific issues here at Vance yet, but it's coming."

 Other possible initiatives like reciprocal emergency medical service training, an emergency notification system and extending the city's trail system to Vance.

The response from the community has been "overwhelming," said Loschinskey.

"There's a lot of good relationship already, and I think this is serving as a forum that ties all this together and maybe even gets some more momentum going because all of those folks are in the same room talking," he said.

 

 

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