SIERRA VISTA — A collaboration linking Fort Huachuca and Cochise County in an alliance that would usher in a homegrown workforce along with immeasurable educational opportunities is in the works to establish a plan for community sustainability that would place Cochise County as a potential top-ranking community in the country.
The far-reaching partnership — proposed by County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jacqui Clay and Fort Huachuca Garrison Commander Col. John Ives — is expected to formally roll out in June with a public forum.
Buena and Douglas high schools have been approached by Clay and Ives, who said the schools are overwhelmingly supportive of the plan.
For Ives and Clay, the collaboration is more than just a win/win alliance. It connects the dots to a future providing enormous opportunities for area high school and college graduates while creating what Ives calls “a community of first choice.”
“What we hope to accomplish with this is it puts community first in people’s mindsets,” said Ives. “I want civilians to say Fort Huachuca is essentially our community. I want doctors to say I want to practice medicine in Cochise County. I want teachers and students to say this is a fantastic place to teach and get an education.
“I want Cochise County to be a community, not just of choice, but of first choice. True collaboration is about inspiring others to their relative greatness. That’s where everyone wins.”
What that means for both Ives and Clay — who served as a U.S. Army command sergeant major for 25 years — is softening the perception of the military to create a better and new connection with the county.
Ives knows that pairing strong community relations with Fort Huachuca is essential in opening up doors and moving forward in creating the community he envisions. He has been vigorously working to establish a stronger relationship with the medical community by introducing physicians from Canyon Vista Medical Center to the Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center at the base.
He also wants high school students to know about the tremendous opportunities waiting to be filled at the fort’s John D. Fox Multi Domain Operations Non-Kinetic Range Complex, which was designed to evaluate software-driven threat representation capabilities and inform the Army on future MDO testing and range requirements.
“We can show them a new career path they probably never knew about in both the military and civilian sectors,” he said. “These are great, in-demand and challenging jobs, and we can help them on the path of certification. Our engineers can go to schools to speak and engage kids interested in this field.”
Ives, who has been the fort’s garrison commander since June and attended elementary school on the base, wants to bring what he calls a more caring, collaborative element back to the way he remembers the military was when he was a boy.
“There’s a feeling that it’s a foreign, scary substance to the community and has an underlined negativity attached to it,” he said. “The community connection with the fort has lagged over the years, and a collaboration like this is important to the future of Cochise County. It’s how we move forward and build on our future.”
Clay is in total agreement with Ives.
“Our mission is to have our students and community be successful,” she said. “We don’t want to export them to other places because of other opportunities. We’re responsible as a community for our future leaders and to inspire them to have opportunities like these right here. If we do this right — and we will — we will catch the hearts and eyes of our students. We’re going to give people the tools that will inspire them to reach their potential.
“Not only will this establish a plan for sustainability; this is how we will grow and remain strong as a county. That’s why I’m so excited about this.”
How Clay and Ives view the joint partnership is that they believe it is going to provide a strong venue on all fronts for Cochise County.
“I want to be at the bottom of the iceberg pushing upwards,” said Clay. “Cochise County and Fort Huachuca are going to provide not just a better, but a model ecosystem.”
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