$20,000 payment for airport lease PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 20 January 2009 10:38
by G. Wright
Staff Writer
Green Banner Publications

As reported previously in The Washington County Edition discussions/negotiations have been going on among City of Salem officials, members of the Salem Municipal Airport Board of Aviation Commissioners (BOAC), and representatives from Salem Speedway since early in 2008.  The purpose of those discussions has been to develop a plan by which the current airport facility could be leased to the Salem Speedway several times throughout the year as a drag racing track and the lease revenues be used to pay the local matching funds for the new airport facility.  (To read all previous stories about this subject click here.)

During the Monday, January 12, Salem Common Council meeting, Richard Deaton, representing Salem Speedway owner, Owen Thompson, presented a check in the amount of $20,000 to Salem Mayor, David Bower.  According to Deaton, the check serves two purposes.  One was to show a good faith effort on behalf of Thompson.  The other was as the first year’s lease payment for a yet undetermined number of dates in 2009 that the current airport runway will be used for racing events.

As per a copy of the proposed lease agreement submitted to the Council, the $20,000 is the first of a series of annual lease payments totaling well in excess of $1 million.  The proposed lease payments accelerate over the next five years to keep pace with the anticipated local matching requirements for the construction of the new airport facility.

In April of 2008, the Common Council voted to withdraw support from the project, citing a lack of tax money necessary to met the local matching funds obligation over the next five years.  That amount, between $800,000 and $900,000 equates to 2.5 per cent of the estimated $22 million cost of the project.  After taking that action, several members of the Common Council and Bower all stated publicly that if a way could be found to fund the new airport project without the use of taxpayer money, they would support it.

At the January 12 meeting, Bower explained that if Thompson was confident enough to invest this kind of money, and considering what an asset Salem Speedway is to the community, every effort needs to be made to see that this deal goes forward.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 January 2009 10:33
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?Snowy conditions led to one vehicle accident PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 00:00
?    Snowy and wet conditions on Wednesday morning, January 7 lead to a one vehicle accident on Blue River Bridge on Highway 60 bringing through traffic to a stop.
    66 year old Otis Adkins of Pekin was traveling from Pekin in a 1999 Mercury when witnesses say he began to slide and struck the guardrail on the passenger side then continued head-on to the left side guardrail before coming to a stop.
    According to Roger Newlon with the Washington County Sheriff Department both air bags in the vehicle did deploy.
    The passenger of the vehicle was Rebecca Martin, 26 also from Pekin.
    Both occupants were transported to Washington County Memorial Hospital. Adkins appeared to be confused and unable to and Martin to be seizing at the scene.
    The Washington County Sheriffs Department will continue to investigate.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 10:45
 
?Brown and Mishler welcome challenges and opportunities PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 00:00
?    In separate luncheon interviews, new Washington County Board of Commissioners (BOC) members David Brown and John Mishler addressed what they see as the greatest opportunities and obstacles the county will be faced with over the next several years. Identical questions were asked of each Commissioner and those questions along with the respective answers are as follows:
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 10:54
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?FAA approves new airport plan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 00:00
? ?    According to a copy of a letter addressed to Salem Municipal Airport Board of Aviation Commissioners (BOAC), Bill Barnett, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in receipt of plans which were submitted for the above-mentioned study (Salem Municipal Airport).  We have conducted an Aeronautical Study to determine the effect of the proposed airport layout plan on the safe and efficient utilization of navigable airspace by aircraft.
    Based on our study we offer no objection from an airspace utilization standpoint . . .”
    The letter, dated December 18, 2008, sets out several requirements that must be met after the construction of the facility is near completion that have to do with navigational beacons.  However, according to Barnett, those are normal regulations regarding the installation of beacons at an existing facility.
    In the ongoing conflict between the BOAC and the Salem Common Council (SCC), FAA approval has been a sticking point. In several meetings, members of the SCC have expressed concerns due to a lack of the approval.
    With the aforementioned approval and a supposedly solid financial arrangement to lease/purchase the current airport facility for an amount in excess of the estimated $800-$900 thousand price tag for the local match to the FAA and State of Indiana planning and construction grants, the path seems clear for the SCC to throw its support behind the project.
    President-elect Obama’s proposed stimulus package targets public works projects that are “shovel ready.”  That means any project that has met all of the regulatory requirements and are simply waiting for funding to become available.  The approval of the new Salem airport by the FAA, puts the it in that group of projects ready to begin.
    The proposed federal stimulus plan calls for identifying projects that have a multi-year financing schedule and shorten the cycle.  In theory, the projected five year time line for construction of the new airport facility could be shorten significantly by a increase in the amount of federal funding being offered each grant cycle.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 10:54
 
?Commissioners award property assessment contract PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 00:00
?    The Washington County Board of Commissioners met for the first time in 2009 on Wednesday, January 7; all members were present. The minutes of previous meeting, all claims and payroll were approved unanimously.
    County Attorney, Tom Scifres, conducted an election of the Board President for 2009. New Commissioners David Brown and John Mishler, nominated and seconded Lana Sullivan to serve as Board President.
    The Commissioners followed the recommendation of Washington County Assessor, Jason Cockerill, by awarding a contract for performing the upcoming property tax re-assessment. The contract, in the amount of $446,537, was award to Tyler Technologies of Dayton, OH. Last year, the State of Indiana eliminated the position of Township Assessor effective July 1. According to Cockerill, that action will save the county approximately $70,000 per year.
    When asked when property tax billing cycles would get back to normal, Cockerill said, “We should be back on schedule by fall unless the Department of Local Government Finance changes something in the process–spring tax bills might be just a little late, though.”
    In other business, the Commissioners made several appointments. One appointment of interest was that of County Service Officer. Following the County Council lead of funding one full-time position in the Veterans Affairs Office (VAO), the Commissioners appointed Pat Rice to the full time position. Recent controversy over Madge Lyles working in the VAO would seem to be put to rest by this appointment. Lyles and some of her supporters were present at the meeting and were heard by the Commissioners.
    The Commissioners also appointed Rick Graves to continue as Highway Superintendent. Graves’ recommendations for several positions within his department were also approved by the Commissioners.
    Mark Nantz of Knapp Miller Brown addressed the Commissioners regarding increases in the county employee contribution for family medical insurance. The employee share of the insurance premium went from $400 to $700 per month. Nantz explained the reason for the increase on that particular part of the dependent insurance but noted that the county as a whole was paying less.
    Sullivan noted that even though she has not heard from any county employees regarding the increase, it is of concern to her. Brown commented that when a person’s take home pay decreases that much, it hurts.
    The Commissioners authorized the purchase of a new server for the courthouse computer system. Apparently, concerns exist about the storage capacity and back up capabilities of the current server. The new service will cost $6598, the majority of which is likely to be paid out of the Recorder’s budget due to the large amount of server space that office uses in relation to the rest of the departments.
    Scifres gave the Commissioners an update on land acquisition efforts associated with Bridge #113 near Fredricksburg. According to Scifres the landowner has agreed to sell the parcel of land for $2500.
    With no further business to conduct, the Commissioners adjourned until their next regularly scheduled meeting on January 21.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 14 January 2009 10:56
 
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