July 24, 2014 10:06:53 AM
A story in the July 21 edition of Air Force Times is certain to cause some hurt feelings in our community.
In the story, Columbus Air Force based was ranked in a tie for "third least popular" of the 68 USAF bases in the U.S.
The publication listed a dozen criteria for compiling its rankings, taking into consideration such factors as school quality, cost of living, housing costs, commissary size, base exchange size, size of on-base health care facilities, crime rates, commute times, pollution levels, climate, unemployment rates and sales taxes. Each base was given a numerical value of 1 to 10 for each category and the totals were tallied and provided as the basis for the rankings.
In its summary of CAFB, the story noted the base's poor ratings for on-base amenities, medical facilities, sales tax, weather, job opportunities, entertainment and housing allowance relative to the cost of living.
For most of us who are not directly connected to the Air Force or CAFB, it is difficult to make an informed rebuttal to this less-than-glowing assessment. We have little way of knowing how CAFB compares to other bases around the country. But we would point out that even for those who are currently stationed at CAFB, the rankings are largely subjective.
We stop short of saying these rankings should be taken with a grain of salt only because we believe the best way to think about this subject is to view it as an opportunity, both for base officials and the community at large.
And face it, some things are beyond our control. We know of nothing the top brass or community leaders can do to make Mississippi summers any cooler, after all. Once those kinds of factors have been eliminated, it affords us an opportunity to review those factors they can control or mitigate and make changes that will improve in those areas.
As far as the community is concerned, the Air Force Times story should inspire us to make sure our Air Force personnel are greeted warmly and treated as valued members of our community, no matter whether their stay here is long or short.
As is often the case, how you feel about a place is greatly influenced by the reception you receive there. You would be surprised just how far some genuine Southern Hospitality can go. That's our specialty, or at least it should be.
The Air Force Times has its rankings.
The citizens of Lowndes County and Columbus have our rankings, too.
CAFB is our overwhelming choice for "Favorite Base."
Let's make sure we show it.
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