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County may limit airstrip use to club

Staff writer

Membership in a private club could be required for model airplane enthusiasts to use a paved airstrip on public property at Marion County Lake.

County counselor Susan Robson recommended Monday that commissioners require membership in the Academy of Model Aeronautics instead of imposing other regulations. While on public property, the airstrip is near private homes and the county airport.

“Apparently, everybody who’s a member of the AMA already has liability insurance, already has agreed to follow all of these rules,” Robson said. “So it was their recommendation, and it would be my recommendation to you, that we post something there that says you are not allowed to fly here unless you are a member of the AMA.”

Members also carry membership cards, and Robson suggested having users check-in and the county make a copy of the card. She said the question remains of who would check in pilots.

“That seems to be a lot less paperwork and a lot easier if we just say you have to be a member of AMA,” Robson said.

The AMA is the world’s largest model aviation association. Dues are $75 for most adults, but membership includes $2.5 million in personal liability insurance coverage.

A Newton-based club with 37 members is the nearest to the county lake, based on the AMA website’s list of charter clubs.

Robson said her recommendation came after discussions with model airplane enthusiast Lindley Slifer and representatives of the Academy of Model Aeronautics.

She said the group would like the county to rename the airstrip “Lakeview RC Airport” and post a sign. Commissioner Kent Becker said the group should pay for the sign itself.

A decision was postponed because commissioner Dianne Novak was absent.

Becker and commissioner Randy Dallke directed Robson to notify the county airport of the model airstrip, due to their proximity to each other.

Commissioners met with park and lake superintendent Bryan Metz behind closed doors for 10 minutes to discuss personnel performance.

Becker said he attended a recent wedding at the lake where the grass was mowed short. Metz said he mowed the grass, which he cut shorter than normal, at the request of the wedding party.

“Because of the season ending and the grass wasn’t growing as quick, we did the actual cutting area, but she wanted it more,” Metz said.

Metz said the county was not compensated for the additional work, which was performed late Friday for the Saturday wedding.

Becker estimated the area cut was about an acre. He said the wedding party should have made a donation for the cost of labor.

“The next time someone asks you to do something to that effect, do we ask for a donation toward the lake, or is there a standard charge for doing something?” Dallke asked Metz.

Dallke followed up his question by stating that he does not want people to respond to a charge or requested donation by saying their tax money should be used.

In other action:

  • Road and bridge supervisor Jesse Hamm, engineer Darin Neufeld of EBH Associates, and Tanner Yost of Kirkham Michael discussed 330th Rd. construction and working with wind farm developer Tradewind Energy on haul routes and other issues.
  • Work on 330th Rd. will likely include grading of a hill near the intersection with Eagle Rd. to provide better visibility to drivers.
  • Commissioners met in closed session for 5 minutes to discuss personnel performance, 5 minutes to discuss potential litigation, and 10 minutes for preliminary acquisition of property. No decisions came from any of the closed sessions.
  • Accountant Scot Loyd will present on the county budget, including cash balances and reserves, at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the city’s basement meeting room in anticipation of too many attendees to fit in commission chambers at the courthouse.
  • Commissioners closed property at 207 Vine St. in Peabody, which Spencer said was picked up at the last tax sale and the county still owns. Becker suggested working with local firefighters to burn any structures down as a training exercise.
  • Arron Slater moved from part-time to full-time deputy sheriff, a raise from $12 to $17.02 per hour. The county must reimburse Peabody, Slater’s former employer, for police academy training because he was at the department less than a year.

“It’s still less expensive than if we would have hired him and sent him to school,” county clerk Tina Spencer said.

“Sometimes our small towns seem to be a starting place for a lot of officers,” Dallke said.

  • Metz said about $1,700 was raised by Saturday’s chili cook-off to go toward park and lake improvement.
  • Mike Beneke suggested splitting a full-time information technology position with another county to save costs.

Last modified Oct. 12, 2017

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