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Better together: AAFB, City of Altus win partnership award

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kari Degraffenreed
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.-- On Sept. 20, 2022 the Altus Community Partnership Program was recognized by the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in Arlington, Virginia for their exemplary  actions in building strong ties between the City of Altus and Altus Air Force Base.

Charles “Chuck” Butchee, the community partnership lead and 97th Civil Engineer squadron deputy commander, accepted the award on behalf of the program, which was presented by Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and his wife, Sharene Brown.

“The award highlighted the tremendous success that Altus Air Force Base and the community of Altus have had in developing relationships, partnerships and opportunities to better provide for the base, the community and the airmen and families that support the base,” Butchee said. “But the main reason we got the award was due to us making strides in rectifying the shortage of housing in town.”

The Altus Community Partnership Program has been working with Jackson County leadership to increase housing options for AAFB Airmen and families. The latest project is the construction of 156 townhouses, which is expected to begin 2023.

“We’re opening up 156 new doors and new opportunities,” Butchee said. “I think that’s what got us the award, but it’s a lot of other stuff too.”

Butchee explained Sharene Brown’s “Five and Thrive” initiative, which are the five components that can make a military family successful. It includes good education, spousal employment, accessible childcare, housing and healthcare.

Aside from healthcare, which is mostly taken care of by Jackson County, the Altus Community Partnership Program has various working groups that cover and support four out of the five components.

“We've worked on the housing and we're doing everything we can to make that happen and there's other plans in the works that are coming behind that.” said Butchee. “We have a spouse employment center downtown on the fifth floor, the NBC Bank building. And we've worked really hard on education. We were just able to obtain a $40 million grant from the City of Altus for the Altus public school system to build a new elementary school here on base.”

While childcare is still an obstacle for some AAFB residents, the Altus Community Partnership also has a group that is working hard to overcome those barriers and ensure that military families have options for their children.

“I think all in all it comes from the desire of our community to make sure that we're standing up and supporting Altus Air Force Base the best that we can,” said Rodger Kerr, president of the Altus Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great relationship and partnership that our community as a whole has with the Air Force base and our military families.”

The success in the Altus Community Partnership lies with their members, who do everything they can to strengthen the bonds between the City and the base. The goal is not for one to fully support the other, but for the two to become synergetic and have everyone working to make the community of Altus and the base better together.

“We’re not trying to be autonomous from each other,” said Butchee. “It’s by us working together that we can create an environment where everything just works better.”