Officials from the Air Force and Great Falls, Mont., hope efforts to find mutually beneficial partnerships between Malmstrom AFB and its host community will be revitalized following a recent visit by Steve Zander, director of the Air Force Community Partnership Program.
Representatives from the base and the city — along with county, education and health officials — began meeting last year to look for ways to take advantage of the new DOD authority allowing installations and communities to share support services for municipal functions and other activities.
Initial ideas generated included establishing a clearinghouse for training opportunities, opening up the city’s parks and recreation department to the base, allowing the city to conduct water testing for the Air Force, integrating public works, enhancing radio communications and finding a new use for underutilized real estate at Malmstrom.
Progress has been slow since then, however, and Zander’s visit was intended to “refresh” the process, according to Great Falls City Manager Greg Doyon. Doyon told 360 that he welcomed Zander’s visit, which added credibility to the partnership program and affirmed the Air Force’s commitment to reaching the initiative’s goals.
“We are here to support you,” Zander said during the June 25 visit, reported the Great Falls Tribune. “When we say try new things, it doesn’t mean throw away old processes,” he said.
While several of the original ideas were scrapped, several are still moving ahead. Officials gathered again at the Great Falls Civic Center and generated new ideas, including combining the purchase power of Malmstrom, the Montana Air National Guard, Great Falls and the county to save money on supplies; establishing a group to address issues facing the region’s area emergency response agencies; establishing a Junior ROTC program with local school districts; and finding ways to better connect Malmstrom personnel with the events and services available outside the installation’s gates.
Working groups will continue pursuing those ideas and advancing the earlier initiatives until the next meeting in the fall, according to the story.
“I think we’re picking up momentum on this,” said Col. Tom Wilcox, commander of the 341st Missile Wing. “I like where we’re headed.”