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Team Holloman members take goal to heart

Otero County Public Works Director Bill Parker, left, talks with Lt. Col. Andra Clapsaddle, commander 49th Civil Engineer Squadron, as Airmen and county personnel begin clearing a section of land along the lower Alamo Canyon drainage channel.

Otero County Public Works Director Bill Parker, left, talks with Lt. Col. Andra Clapsaddle, commander 49th Civil Engineer Squadron, as Airmen and county personnel begin clearing a section of land along the lower Alamo Canyon drainage channel.

HOLLOMAN AFB, NM -- When Col. David Goldfein assumed command of the 49th Fighter Wing he laid out three areas of focus, one of which was "Take Care of Each Other." Fortunately for residents living in areas around Alamogordo, members of Team Holloman took Colonel Goldfein's goal to heart. 

Airmen from the 49th Civil Engineer Squadron assisted members of the Otero County public works department with clearing sections of land along the lower Alamo Canyon drainage channel near the residential area of Boles Acres. This arroyo runs from the mountains on the southeast corner of Alamogordo, southwest across both private and public lands before crossing through the Boles Well Field. The well field is an area of land owned by the Air Force east of US Highway 54 and the railroad, including a large flood water pond west of US 54 and north of Boles Acres. 

Though much of the Airmen's work was administrative, their efforts lead to dozens of homes and personal property being saved from flooding as the monsoon season continues to pound southern New Mexico. 

Recent storm runoff had piled tons of dirt and rocks in the stream bed on both private and Air Force property, which caused fears of future flooding of the Boles Acres and Valmont areas of Alamogordo. The floods washed out drainage channels across Air Force property, which caused the waters to go further south across the railroad and U.S. Highway 54. 

"This channeling of all the flood waters was causing the Boles Acres area to flood. Working with the county, we developed a plan to relocate some of the silt so the water would go in three different directions when it came onto Air Force property, thus lessening the impact on the culverts leading under the highway," said Lt. Col. Andra Clapsaddle, 49 CES commander. "The work was great cooperation between all. We supported the county by doing a site survey and approving their work plan and Hold Harmless agreement." 

According to Mr. Andrew Gomolak, a geologist with the Civil Engineer Squadron, the waters were affecting private property upstream near the Oro Vista area as well. By making modifications in the Boles Well Field the waters would slow down and soak into the ground, which would decrease the flooding affects on private property. 

According to Mr. Gomolak, Lt. Col. Michael O'Sullivan, 49 FW Staff Judge Advocate office, was credited for "quickly handling" the complex legal issues and writing and coordinating with county officials to get the legal agreement signed before work could begin. Due to government restrictions, the county could not legally perform work on Holloman, so Colonel O'Sullivan's actions "made it possible" for this action to take place. 

Colonel Clapsaddle said she was pleased with the work of Master Sgt. William Deakin, Mr. Michael Zanelli, Mr. Jimmie Worley, Mr. Charlie Price and Mr. Gomolak. All of these individuals assisted Otero County Administrator Dr. Martin Moore and Otero County Public Works Director Bill Parker to ensure the environmental permitting was approved and that land management laws and Air Force regulations were followed. 

The county had the equipment and resources on hand to complete the work, however Holloman did not because of the current world-wide operations. 

Colonel Goldfein said, "I am extremely pleased with the wing-wide humanitarian response of Team Holloman in response to the flooding in Alamogordo. The work Colonel Clapsaddle and the 49 CES assisted with in Boles Acres is evidence of the outstanding relationship we have with the citizens of Otero County. This truly exemplifies our goal of Taking Care of Each Other that I set out when I took command."