OPINION BY JEAN? - December 6, 2009

This is my opinion, and questions after reading today's Greensburg Daily news article.

The Greensburg Daily News has a very interesting front page article today 12-5-09 titled "Even in Expansion, Airport Plans to Remain Self Sufficient".

USA Today article of 9-17-09 on General Aviation Airports (which was an evaluation of the FAA's entire grant program) states that 75% of expanded general aviation airports do not support themselves and fall back on the taxpayers to do so.

I guess Greensburg's Airport board PLANS to be part of that magic 25%?

I also notice that while they have a budget with the City of Greensburg that they say they are not using one dime of it. They also say they have no intent to use it. If that be the case why did they increase the operating budget of 2008 (which according to the WTRE interview where the mayor and Jon Dooley said was $36,000.00 to a budget request of money from the city for 2009 of $52,260?

When the AVERAGE expanded general aviation airport takes $150,000.00 per year to operate what is their "magic bullet" that they think will make them different?

In the WTRE interview Jon Dooley sites that Shelbyville airport has a 5,000 ft. runway. Shelbyville's operating expense was over $200,000.00.

The Mayor and Jon Dooley on the WTRE interview about hangar fees and landing fees as a way of paying the bills and keeping the airport self sustaining after it's expansion. First of all if you look at the Airport Boards...Airport Layout Plan...Phase 1 which is $18,759,400 and will take 1 to 5 years...there are no additional hangars planned in the this phase of this expansion. Additional hangar space is not shown in the Airport Layout Plan until after phase 2 and into phase 3 which by then will be a total projected cost of $32,898,200 and take 11 to 20 years to accomplish. I question that the current hangar fees will be enough to carry the additional expenses that will be incurred to run this airport when their current budget according to their statement on WTRE is only $36,000.00 and the average expanded airport of the size they are talking takes $150,000.00 to operate.

Also...in the USA Today article of 9-17-09 on the FAA grant funding to general aviation airports...this article makes the following statement: "only 2 to 3 % of general-aviation airports charge planes to land", "why not impose such charges? Nobody would land here if we charged a fee, says Randall Earnest, manager of Mercer County Airport in West Virginia. You'd land at an airport that's not charging a fee." With the Shelbyville airport as close as it is...why not land there and not pay a fee?

On the WTRE radio interview Jon Dooley made the statement that the expansion has nothing to do with Skydive Greensburg but they currently have the most operations at the airport. What if those operations suddenly were gone? Perhaps this business goes out of business, move it etc? What impact does this one business have on their operating expenses? In particular the fuel purchase income?

In the USA TODAY article , Mr. Thomas Frank stated that "three-quarters of general aviation airports lose money every year and stay solvent only with cash from local taxpayers", and this is according to Vitaly Guzhva, a FINANCE PROFESSOR, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida. Couple that with the fact that if you listen once again (as I just did) to the Mayor and Jon Dooley on the WTRE interview, and you hear a bit of a different picture about this expanded airport FULLY supporting itself. You also hear a slightly different commentary on whether taxes will ever be a possibility in this picture. You will even hear the Mayor say on the WTRE interview that the County was not involved in this from a tax standpoint but that "Hopefully some day the county would be on board".

When did any of you ever see a project of the scope and size of this one...in excess of 32 million dollars according to their airport layout plan over the next 20 years that cost you the taxpayers absolutely nothing?

They have been comparing us to Bellefontaine Ohio all throughout this Airport Layout Plan. If any of you out there know someone other than the politicals or the airport enthusiasts in Bellefontaine Ohio...I would suggest you ask them (the average taxpayer) if their expanded airport has brought them JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! As was promised in the second last GDN article of questions by our Airport board. I had a resident/non political in my store last week of Bellefontaine Ohio. It was a very enlightening conversation...and no she did not show negativity towards their airport...she just simply stated it had not brought them any jobs. Bellefontaine's airport is yet to meet their revenue to expenses.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - unpublished as of 11/22/09

An editorial in the Greensburg Daily News by the GDN editorial board on 11/21/09 made the following statement concerning my commentary on the airport issue. "The idea, posed by Jean Johannigman in a letter to the editor published Nov. 19th, that the airport board should take a citywide vote would simply be a waste of money. If the idea was carried through as proposed-paying for an election, hiring a professional independent firm to oversee relocation of the airport, etc.-the whole thing would likely cost more than the $500,000 the taxpayers would shell out as the project stands now".

As for an election being a "waste of money" I find that statement extremely interesting and VERY UNAMERICAN. This country, our great country was founded on our right to FREE SPEECH. It appears unconstitutional by nature and undue aggression to in any way indicate that the taxpayers be surpressed in any way and for any reason from having an official voice in this issue. This airport project price tag is over a 20 year period a 32 million dollar plus project. An airport that is currently expending a budget funded in part by our taxpayer money through the City of Greensburg. That budget was $30 some odd thousand in 2008, with a proposed budget for 2009 of $50 some thousand, and a proposed budget for 2010 of $70 some odd thousand and the expansion hasn't yet taken place. When you realize that the average expanded general aviation airport operational funds are $150,000.00 each year or more...THIS IS OUR TAXPAYER MONEY!! We will be obligated to support this with no say in this matter!

Batesville school corporation has a school expansion project that over 20 years is going to be a 28 million dollar project...and yes...they are taking a vote of their taxpayers.

I think it would serve us all well to read this letter to the editor from Jean Leising on the Batesville School Project. I can only hope it will make many take pause to think about what we are doing with this airport project. Here is a link to her letter: https://secure.in.gov/portal/news_events/43455.htm

I realize that by law it is mandatory for Batesville to take this vote on this project. However when the GDN, and anyone else in defense of this airport project are telling us it is "a waste of money" to take a vote on this project...what is it that they are trying to tell us?

Move to Batesville where it is not "a waste of money" to take a vote of what their registered voters think on an issue of this scope?

Or is it that they are afraid of how this vote might come out...putting several politicians in a precarious position if they proceed anyway?

I am taking the Greensburg Daily News at their word (as I was informed through email) that they have not as yet turned down a letter to the editor, but that I was at a limit that the GDN has set of 3 letters to the editor per quarter.

I encourage all of you to take action immediately and let your City officials know that you expect to officially have your say as a registered voter on this issue of great importance to our community.

Jean Johannigman

LETTER TO THE EDITOR - published 11/19/09 GDN

I am sure by now the community as a whole is very tired of hearing about the airport issue. In recognition of that fact...this issue could quite easily be resolved with the following steps.

Take an official and legal vote of the registered voters of the City of Greensburg.
In the vote ask the following questions:
1.) Do you want the airport expanded? Yes___ No____
2.) If the airport is expanded, do you want it to expand at the existing location? Yes____ No___

If the vote comes out that they want it expanded and they want a new location this should be followed by the appointment of an independent committee to oversee a professionally hired firm to search for the best alternate site for the economic development of our community with the consideration of a possible regional endeavor. The above independent committee would have to be a composition of current airport board members and property owners near the existing site (in equal amounts) OR people from outside of the county with no vested interests in order to get an outside of the box look at the best location for the economic development of our area.

On an interesting note...has anyone looked at the comprehensive plan in pertinence to expanding the airport at the current facility? Not only is it NOT show n on the comprehensive plan...but a thoroughfare road is shown going right through this area. Airports are also listed as nuisances in this comprehensive plan. We have an OPPORTUNITY to consider moving this airport at this point and developing the current location in a way that is extremely complimentary for the future PLANNED development of our community.

I encourage the public officials involved to end this matter by just taking a vote of your constituents.

No matter what the outcome...I for one will respect the vote of the majority and I challenge our elected officials to do the same.

Jean Johannigman

WHO IS MOVE IT OR LOSE IT? - October 20, 2009

Who are the people who came to the "MOVE IT OR LOSE IT" meeting concerning the Airport Expansion project? If your answer is: "just a bunch of farmers and property owners who are afraid they are going to lose their land and people who do not care about the "progress" and "economic development" of our community...well if that is what you are thinking you couldn't be more wrong! Here is a short list of occupations or interests of some of the attendees. Real Estate Agent, Former City Water Board Member, Bank Originator of Home Loans, Engineer, Former Board of Aviation Commissioner, Retail Business Owner, Retired Lawyer, Landscape architect, Farmer, Former County Council Member, Retired School Teacher, Web Designer, Local Factory Office Employee, Real Estate Investor, John Doe Citizen.

First of all...isn't it interesting in and of itself that an Engineer and former Board of Aviation Commissioner would come in support of the MOVE IT OR LOSE IT movement? That is a whole story in and of itself.

Now...in looking over this list above, can you imagine that a Real Estate Investor, Real Estate Agent, Bank Originator of Home Loans, Retail Business Owner, Former City Water Board Employee, Engineer, Landscape architect, or a web designer would be against TRUE Economic Development? Personally, I cannot imagine this as all of these careers or interests would depend on TRUE Economic Development for future business possibilities...and yet they were all present at a meeting to thwart what the Mayor and the Board of Aviation Commissioners are touting as an Economic Development Opportunity of a Lifetime because there is FREE Federal Grant money available. What are some possibilities of why that might be? The following of course is just my opinion but...Could it be that with the World Economy as it is they might question the return on the investment? What is the investment? According to the Airport Layout Plan(ALP) it will be an investment over 20 years of $32,898,200.00 . That comes out to $1,644,910.00 per year. And that is if the price does not go up over the next 20 years.

The price above does not include ANY operational costs. In the ALP they constantly compare us to Bellefontaine REGIONAL airport in Ohio. Their population is about 13,000 and they also have a large automotive plant in close proximity. Remember, in a letter from their Mayor to our Mayor, it was stated in that May 30, 2008 letter that "As you can see we have yet to break even in our revenue-to-expense". The Mayor of Bellefontaine also states: "From 2004 through this year, that debt service has come out of our Airport Construction Fund which is the account all airport revenue and FAA grants are allocated to, however it does not appear that there will be enough in that account come 2009 to pay the full debt service, so at that time, a portion of the debt service will be coming out of our general fund".

Then there is the USA Today article of Sept.17th, 2009, titled "Little-used Airports cost taxpayers big money." In this article it states that: "3/4 of general aviation airports lose money every year and stay solvent only with cash from local taxpayers". This article also shows a pie chart that shows that for 2007 all registered airplanes breaks down as follows: 66% personal use 5% corporate, 6% instructional, 11% business, and 12% other.

The letter from the mayor of Bellefontaine showed their operational expense to be $108,000.00 per year. I will let you take the cost of construction (which Federal grant money or not is still our tax money) and add the projected operational costs (which could fall back on our local tax money), and then consider a goal as indicated above of 5% corporate and 11% business use and let it up to you the taxpayer to determine if it is worth the return on the investment that will be made. Let's also consider if like Bellefontaine we would not meet operational costs and in the future decide to either move or close the airport. THEN the FAA grant money under those conditions would have to be repaid. In the USA Today article, the Mayor of Allentown, Pa would like to sell his airport to develop that area. He touts what he could sell and develop that area for and he cannot sell it for 20 years as they took FAA grant money.

I would like to witness to all of you that I learned a great deal from the people who attended this initial "MOVE IT OR LOSE IT" meeting. People from all walks of life, who came together over an issue that will profoundly affect our community. Myself and others were very impressed with someone who stepped forward on this issue. His name is Brack Rayles. Brack has only lived in our fair city for 3 years. Brack is married and has two boys, whose ages are 4 years and 4 months. Brack has a degree from Purdue University as a Landscape Architect and is currently working as a web designer. I wanted to list Brack by description only in this article for his protection...Brack's comment to me was this: "I think I would prefer you use my name. I don't want to hide anymore behind what I believe". The following is a statement Brack made at the MOVE IT OR LOSE IT meeting the other night: "The reason I got involved with this issue is because of the intended use of "eminent domain". Eminent Domain, in this case, would be used for the "Economic Benefit" of the town. My main thought in this is that we have to stop separating our "economy" from our "morality". As a believer and pursuer of God, I cannot reconcile taking another person's land when it is not for sale, just so me and my neighbor's can have an extra $100.00 in my pocket. This would be violating the most basic of Christian tenants, to "treat others as I'd like to be treated". If it were my land, I wouldn't want anyone to "forcibly" take it from me...so I can't endorse taking it from them. And in my opinion, this principle should also apply if the airport is seen to be needed somewhere else".

In my opinion...people like Brack are true PATRIOTS! This is what our community is about. This is what our country was founded on. God. I commend Brack for standing up and I want to encourage each and everyone of you to do the same!

Go to the www.greensburgairport.com website...write a letter to each and every political representative listed as well as the FAA. Tell them how you feel whether that is pro or con. T-shirts (if you are in agreement with the MOVE IT OR LOSE IT cause, can be obtained on the website, and I encourage each of you to do so. Then wear your T-shirt as your statement to local officials in public. Go and wear your T-shirt at the airport board meetings (4th Monday of each month) and the City Council Meetings (1st Monday of each month) both at City hall at 7:00 pm.

Let's do our best to MOVE IT OR LOSE IT!

Humble Rumble Nathan Harter safety commentary - 10/15/09

I read with great interest Nathan Harters opinion column today and would like to ask a question.

Concerning the airport Nathan stated the following: "As a society we apparently calculated a tradeoff, deciding that the increased risk was worth it".

My question for Nathan is this...when did "we" as a society , or more appropriately , "we" as the taxpayers of Greensburg , decide "this"? When did "we" as a society , or "we" as the taxpayers of Greensburg, ever get asked where we stand on this issue pro or con? I have been following all city meetings and video taping the vast majority of them for quite some time. I would like to invite Mr. Harter to come attend those meetings with me. It can be quite an enlightening experience.

Safety is but one of many issues. While the increase in SIZE and VOLUME will increase the chance of a catastrophe...that same said increase according to the Sept 17th, 2009 USA Today article written by Thomas Frank titled: "Little-used airports Cost taxpayers Big Money"...states that while these general aviation airports are considered an "economic marketing tool" that "three quarters of general aviation airports lose money every year and stay solvent only with cash from local taxpayers". So while there should (according to what we are being told by the BOAC) be an increase in the traffic...will that increase warrant a 32 million dollar plus project over the next 20 years? Another interesting statistic from the USA today article listed above is a pie chart. It shows that of the "2007 registered private airplanes that 66% are used for personal use, 5% corporate use, 6% instructional use, 11% business use, 12% other use". If you add the corporate and business use together which equals 16%, and consider the current economy, does that add up to a 32 million dollar plus investment? Then there are the operational costs that no one is discussing.

Back to the safety issue...the real issue is we should have a right as taxpayers to decide IF we want this airport , AND if we do want it,...do we want it expanded at the current site or would the current site be better developed to compliment the fairgrounds, parks etc. that are in the area?

Safety is an issue here as can be witnessed by New York Times article that I found called: "Chile:11 die as plane crashes into ball field". The last sentence of this article states the following: "The plane, a Cessna, crashed minutes after taking off from the nearby Tobalaba airport, WHICH RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN DEMANDING BE RELOCATED FROM THE POPULOUS RESIDENTIAL AREA". When we are at a point locally where we can still CHOOSE where we expand this airport or IF we expand this airport...why expand it here and set ourselves up for the above scenario?


In many of my recent articles on the airport I have mentioned my opinion on the airport...but in case there is any doubt I will state it one more time. I am personally for an airport expansion. I am for an airport expansion because I see it as a viable Economic Development tool to have in our tool box. However, I also strongly feel for the best investment of that 21 million dollars of grant (taxpayers) money that the expansion should be relocated to a new site. A site that has potential to grow, a site that has the potential for a commerce park right next to it, a site that could purchase and rent out extra farm ground for income, a site that could be large enough to ease the tension between the skydive business and the surrounding property owners, a site that IF desired could be expanded into a regional facility, a site that would be selected in a much safer area than the existing site. I would also like to see this new site selected before Greensburg and Decatur county do go through a growth spurt and it becomes even more difficult to come up with a viable site.

Recently I was given a copy of a letter written and signed by the executive director of the EDC (Economic Development Corporation) on May 18th, 2009 that is being circulated in our community. This letter is in support of the airport expansion and reads as follows:
To Whom It May Concern:

The Economic Development Corporation of Greensburg/Decatur County has been contacted by several concerned citizens regarding the impending loss of federal funds to improve or relocate the Greensburg Airport.

We believe that a modern airport is a vital piece of the economic development infrastructure within our county. We support increasing the capabilities of our airport to handle future growth at an appropriate location in a manner consistent with other economic development opportunities in our county.

We encourage the appropriate bodies to make a decision, in a timely fashion, to secure available funding and provide an enhanced airport facility for the betterment of the citizens of Decatur County.

If we can provide you with any information to help you make your decision please do not hesitate to contact us.


If you read my above opinion on the airport expansion and then you read the EDC's letter of support for the expansion, I am sure you are shaking your head and thinking that I am in agreement with the EDC so where is she going with this?

Well lets take a look at this.

The Greensburg/Decatur County Economic Development Corporation has the following mission statement:
To be a catalyst in increasing economic wealth and growth in Decatur County through collaboration with government officials and business partners.

The Greensburg/Decatur County EDC objectives are as follows:
To aggressively compete for new jobs through effective marketing techniques and utilization of community resources.

Assist with the expansion and retention of local businesses and industry through communication and networking of available resources of business assistance.

Motivate and coordinate planning/ zoning initiatives to maximizing our community land and use of physical resources.

To support improvements in education and training of our human resources to its fullest potential. http://www.edcgdc.com/

When you look at the mission statement and the goals of the Greensburg/Decatur County EDC it is not hard at all to understand why they might write a letter in support of expanding our airport.

I do have some questions however...

1.) In the letter the EDC is circulating...how many and who exactly are the concerned citizens that contacted the EDC about the impending loss of federal funds? Are they citizens of the City or citizens of the County? Do they own airplanes? Are they members of the airport board? Have they privately contributed to the airport so as to assist in circumventing a referendum on this issue? Just who are these concerned citizens and why are we (the EDC) seemingly more concerned about them than the average taxpayer of the City of Greensburg?

2.) In the EDC's letter it states they were contacted out of concern reguarding the impending loss of federal funds...how can you lose funds that you do not have and are still in competition to be considered for? (again I will remind that there is FAA emails confirming that they do not have this grant and will have to compete for it).

3.) Since this is the Greensburg/Decatur County EDC...does that mean that the County has now changed their mind and would like to join back in on the airport expansion project including the funding of such project?

4.) I am curious about the timing of this letter. Why now? There will be public meetings for this. Is this a possible way to apply political pressure to pass through a project without public perception of these endeavors?

What would happen with this project if it were pursued in a manner to not only educate the public about this project but to INCLUDE them in this project by trying to find out first of all IF the taxpayers WANT an expanded airport. Just because Jean thinks it is an economic development tool does not mean that the majority will agree with her. Secondly, IF the majority of the City taxpayers decide they want an expansion...will they want that expansion at the current site or will they want it moved to another area? In my opinion if these two criteria were put on a referendum...I feel that you would see that the majority would be in favor of the expansion but they would not be in favor of expanding at the current location. So why not the best of both worlds? If this referendum took place and it turned out this way we would gain an expanded airport with room to grow...a great investment! And even better yet we would have the MAJORITY of the taxpayers support on this project. It couldn't get any better than that! Oh wait...yes it could! Since this is the Greensburg / DECATUR COUNTY EDC writing this letter of support...we might even have the opportunity of shared funding once again from the county...So what are we waiting for?

Let's have a clear landing! - Date goes here

Seems to me that there is a lot of talk that just serves to confuse the airport issue. Let's make an attempt today to clear some of that up so we as a community can have a clear landing on this issue.

What are the options? We could leave the airport as it is. We could expand the airport at the current location. We could expand the airport at a new location or we could pursue a regional airport option.

Let's look at the first option of leaving the airport as it currently is: The positives of this option are that we would still have an airport and no additional taxpayers money would be spent for improvements. The downfall if we leave the airport in the present state is that we would have no additional plus to use as an Economic Development tool to entice new development.

The positives of option #2: Expanding the airport at the current location are as follows: We would gain a positive Economic Development Tool, the infrastructure, roads, hangers etc. would already be in place, the current location is a very easy accessible location, and it has been stated by the BOAC that this location is not landlocked. There is one question that still looms and we do not know if this is a positive or a negative and that question is…do the taxpayers embrace this option? The definite negatives of expanding at the current location are as follows: Safety issues are increased for the surrounding park, pool, ball diamonds, golf course , fairgrounds etc., there are many surrounding water areas increasing the potential for bird strike problems, although birds can be mitigated with the proper equipment, mitigating them is not eliminating them and what are the increased costs and safety issues in doing so? This area IS landlocked at least if you consider that at 5,700 feet you will have to fill in a ravine and change a stream bed in order to ever expand this runway in the future. No cost effective room to expand the runway. There is currently a conflict between one of the major airport businesses (the skydive business) and the surrounding property owners that could be alleviated by moving and planning the facility with such operations in mind. There are definite eminent domain issues and expense at the current location.

Now lets look at the positive effects of expanding an airport at a NEW location: If the grant IS obtained the building of new hangers etc. would be applicable under the grant money. Additional land could be purchased for future expansion, to alleviate problems with the skydive business and surrounding property owners, and the additional land could be rented for crop rental to assist with the airport budget. A commerce park could be developed in conjunction with the new facility making it a location of increased interest for Economic Development. Better investment of the taxpayers grant money by investing it in an area that can easily and cost effectively be expanded. A new location would be a great investment of this taxpayer / grant money especially if in looking at the bigger picture a regional endeavor is ever considered. With a new location and additional space we could pursue having a national guard presence. The current facility could remain in use while the new facility is being built. Eminent domain issues might be lessened or avoided by pursuing a new site. Now let's look at the negatives of building at a new location: we would lose the current hangars and there would be need of additional infrastructure.

Now lets discuss a regional airport...a regional airport is separate from the above three scenarios. According to the FAA there is a calendar for development of regional airport facilities that you have to be on before you are even considered for a regional airport. To get on the calendar which will be revised as I understand it from the FAA in 2010...the local regional officials would join together and make the request to be included in the calendar for a prospective regional airport pursuit consideration. Then it would be up to the FAA channels to determine the viability of such an endeavor.

Personally , I would go for option #1, which is leaving everything just as it is OR Option #3 Expanding at a new location.

Why would I consider option #1 which changes nothing? Just as it has been sited that Greensburg now has an excess CAPACITY (not source) of water because of the recession and the fact that many factories have laid off, closed up, or diminished their capacity which also diminishes their use of water...the economy and this recession will definitely affect if and when or if ever the economic opportunities will be there to make viable and to pay for an expansion to the tune of 21 million dollars of grant money (tax money). It has been sited many times recently that Greensburg has not grown as predicted with the New Honda plant locating here. With that being the case then why invest this amount of grant money (taxpayer money) in expanding this facility?

Why would I bypass option #2 and go to option 3? If we are going to invest 21 million dollars of grant money (taxpayer money), wouldn't it be better to do so at a site where additional expansion could take place if and when needed without a great deal of additional cost in filling in a ravine and changing a streams direction? Wouldn't it be better to expend that 21 million dollars at a site that COULD be made into a regional endeavor , IF and when it was ever determined it was needed? Wouldn't it be better to take into consideration relieving the skydive and neighboring property owners conflict, the safety issue of the location, the safety issue of the ponds and wildlife situation by selecting the best advantages at a new site? A new site could also provide crop rental income for the bottom line of the airport budget. A new site could be built in such a manner to pursue bringing in a National Guard presence. A new site could be developed with a commerce park adjacent to it for real economic development opportunities.

I am sure there are many, many more pro's and con's than I have listed above that all of you can think of. But what is it that YOU the taxpayer think on this project? Has anyone asked you how you would like your 21 million dollars of grant money (taxpayer money) spent? Yes , I know, there will be a public meeting. Watch for that fine print, go and state your opinion . The normal procedure. I merely ask...is that procedure working? I am sure we have all had some experience with this on greater or lesser levels.

Is there a better location? Since in my opinion there has been no SERIOUS pursuit of that alternate location...how do we know? I have had several people notate to me a location/locations north of town that would be perfect. Easy interstate access, close to the existing commerce park with additional land for a new commerce park area. Is this area being considered? Time will tell.

As always I do not ask that you agree with my opinions...only that you take the time to watch to listen and to form your own opinion and express it to our City officials on this very important topic.


Wow! Are we as taxpayers paying attention to all that is going on in our backyard? Potentially, we could be "gifted" with a new 21 million dollar airport expansion that if it does not pay it's own way...we as taxpayers would be expected to come up with the money to sustain. How can this happen? It happens if we let it happen. Yes, there will be public meetings held. Yes, we need to attend and voice our opinions. Yes, we need to become informed. It appears as though we are currently being given one objective. To expand at the current location. How about that other option of expanding at an alternate site? How about the option of not expanding at all? Will they listen if we disagree with their proposed objective?

Well today let's look at another option. Why not? Perhaps in doing so the public will end up more versed on this topic than the board that is making all of these decisions for us. Perhaps we might actually be prepared when these public meetings come about. Again I will warn…make sure you watch for that small print, while it is legal it is easily missed.

A few weeks back, at my business, I had a very wise sage in our community drop me off a newspaper article he knew would be of interest to me. This article talked about a private for profit business, building and operating a commercial airport.

What a novel idea. Do any of you remember that old tv commercial when we were growing up? It went something like this..."how do you make money"?

"You do it the old fashioned way…...you EARN it"!

As our airport board has finally acknowledged that they do not have the grant that has been talked about since the inception of this idea and they also finally acknowledge that they will now have to compete for this grant ...why not look at another concept? Especially since grants are still taxpayers monies.

So let's go back to the topic of the newspaper article that was dropped off to me. The location of this new airport that will be a private , for profit business enterprise will be in Branson Mo. I think there are many of us who have been to Branson and can relate that it is in the middle of no where. Branson has a population of 7,500 year round residents. Branson's nearest airport is 52 miles away. On two occasions voters in Branson rejected paying for an airport. (oh, that taxpayers here would have that opportunity to say yes or no).

Here are a couple of quotes and the link to this article.

"More than a dozen cities, such as Philadelphia, New Orleans and Long Beach, are exploring some form of privatization". "Dunham cautions that public officials who sit on airport boards around the nation like their positions. "When it comes time to make the deal, most won't want to give up that power," he says".

In reading this article here are some of my own observations. The enterprise behind this public venture seems to have done their homework. They know exactly who is coming into their area, where they are coming from and why. They know their statistics and what it will take to make this venture profitable AND they are willing to put their money where their mouths are.

Here is another article with a much larger airport that was considering privatization of their airport. This article quotes:
"Skaggs was pushing the idea, saying it could bring the city a windfall that could create a a trust fund that would help the city out of continual budget problem."

The City Council has voted against a plan to apply for one of five slots in a national program that could have led to private investors buying the airport and paying the city possibly up to $2 billion."


Here is a link to an FAA airport privatization pilot program.
"Congress established the FAA's Airport Privatization Pilot Program to explore privatization as a means of generating access to various sources of private capital for airport improvement and development".


Privatization rather than taxpayer funded. Another possible solution? What would it hurt to investigate?


I have publicly expressed on numerous occasions that I am supportive of the expansion of our local airport. I would like to state that upfront , as that is about all I agree with as a taxpayer concerning this project.
Just what are the problems???
First of all, is there public support for this expansion, and if so , exactly what is it that the taxpayers will support? Someone in authority needs to see that this question is answered before this project proceeds any further.
Secondly, does the BOAC board have a grant or don't they? I have an email from the FAA stating they do not. Our City officials need to get the FAA down here for a public meeting explicitly depicting publicly their procedures and what is true and what is myth. This meeting needs to be recorded so there are no further discrepancies. While this could wait and happen at an unknown time in the future timeline of the FAA, it would be in the best interest of moving this project forward to do this NOW. Why? This would help alleviate and hopefully dispel all the ill will and distrust that has been created by the improper handling of this issue. For anyone who thinks this is not a problem they only needed to be sitting in the meeting (as I did) where one of the BOAC board members publicly stated that an alternate site was only looked at as a smoke screen for the county officials who were involved at that time.
Next I would like to address why I am for expansion, BUT not at the current location. If the BOAC in fact does have a grant, then we should make the best possible use of this grant . With the current status of the economy an opportunity like this one may not come our way again, if in fact it is there at all. So let's not only expand , but let's do it as an investment of our tax money , not as a quick fix.
The current location is landlocked at 5,600 feet max for the runway. Why not move to a new location (since the grant would also build new hangars) and buy additional land for future growth. In the mean time while the additional land is not being used for the airport, it can be rented out for crop planting, creating additional income for the airport operations budget. It would also create a buffer between the airport and the surrounding property owners so there would be less sky dive confrontations. While the new location is being developed (it took 7 years for the Belfontaine airport to be built) , the current facility could remain in use.
What other advantages could be garnered from moving the airport? The current location could be developed into additional space for the fairgrounds, park, sports complex etc. We could insure public safety by moving it from a high usage public area, to an area selected specifically for this use. There is also the opportunity that there is someone who has property they would like to sell for this purpose , rather than go through a lengthy , costly , and unpopular eminent domain procedure.
In the best interest of the City taxpayers, who would be backing with their property taxes any bonds on this project……this board should be made up of City residents who are liable to pay those same said taxes. It is always easier to spend funds or pick a location if it is not your money being spent or if it is not being located in your back yard. With some new attitude, and a willingness to find out exactly what it is the taxpayers could and would support....this project could end up with a win / win situation for our community. In the end , in my opinion, "In God We Trust" is the the taxpayers only recourse.

ASHES, ASHES, WE ALL FALL DOWN! - Date goes here

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down! I hate to continue to be the purveyor of doom but just when is enough , enough?
At the most recent TIF/Lincoln st. meeting a local businessman spoke and made some very good points. One of the points he made was to basically quit worrying about trying to access stimulus money for the Lincoln st. project and worry about the businesses (who have paid taxes in this community for years) that you will put out of business by running this project through a third construction season. He made the point as a business person that the original plan for Lincoln st. was the right plan for the businesses on Lincoln st. Of course I am paraphrasing , but you can see the video of this discussion through these two links.
From this topic my attention turns back to the airport. Again, I think an expanded airport is an economic development tool. In the economic crisis we are currently experiencing ...i have to ask...is now the time to expand the airport? In the Greensburg Daily News article about the airport commissioners dive into safety, expansion concerns that was on the front page on 3/2/2009 I saw two statements of concern to me. Quote: "Ernstes added that he was pleased to announce that the (FAA) had recently approved a grant for $270,000.00. He said it was a decent justification of the expansion, and a good indication that the FAA wants the project to continue". My problem with this statement is that the additional grant is meant to pay down the current purchase of the existing airport. This grant is not tied into the expansion. Then there is an email I have from Jack Delaney from the FAA which states that the Greensburg BOAC does not have the grant that they have talked about all along in hand. Mr. Delaney stated in that same email that they will have to compete nationally in order to obtain a grant for the expansion.
Another statement in the GDN article that concerns me is this: Quote: " but the project is moving forward, and Ernstes said that he had been working with Congressman Mike Pence and the Greensburg City Council to continue the $20 million dollar project". Sitting in the meetings…this project first started out at $11 million, then it moved to $14 million, now it is up to $20 million? Even IF, and I say IF as Mr. Delaney has assured me they do not have this grant in hand, they (the BOAC) would pull out getting this grant....we the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg are going to have to come up with the balance. While I realize that EDIT funds could be used to make payments on bonds that would be backed by the City of Greensburg Taxpayers, I must ask...in these economic times is it wise to proceed with a project of this magnitude?
I must also question the wisdom of proceeding as planned with the Lincoln St. project. What are the current bond rates? How will inflation affect these bond rates? Will it become possible that we can not do the Lincoln St. project as planned because we just can't afford it? What will happen to the Freeland Road extender? Will that ever be realized if we max out our funding/bonding power on Lincoln St?
Potentially how many businesses during a three season construction period will we lose that have been paying taxes into our community? How many new businesses might there be an opportunity for (that would pay into the TIF district) if the Freeland road extender were developed?
The current economy is reason to question a lot of decisions that are being made for the City of Greensburg. On a much simpler level, I know we as a family are reassessing much of what we do. We see our friends, neighbors, and relatives losing their jobs. This translates into loss of EDIT funds. This translates into less money for the City to spend. Why are we spending it anyway?

PARTY POLITICS - Date goes here

Today I would like to ask a question and voice my OPINION on a subject that is absolutely killing our community.
That would be PARTY POLITICS.
There are not too many people that are politically involved that don't know that my family has been Democrat…literally forever.
Recently I changed parties and now hold a membership to the Republican Party. I did this because I put my faith first and I do not believe in abortion. Hence I was very comfortable with switching to the Republican Party for this reason.
With my faith being first...my family second....my community falls in at third. Party Politics is not good for our community. The two party system was created for diversification. For differing view points. Our Constitution gives us the right to free speech. With all this in mind...i would like to relate something that happened to me recently.
I was approached by the new chairman of the Republican Party to speak at our monthly Republican Meeting about my viewpoint on the airport expansion project. I declined as I have been actively stating my opinion in this column. I thought it would be good to hear another viewpoint. A viewpoint from someone who is a property owner that will be impacted. A viewpoint from a person that in my observance has a lot of very valuable information on this subject. The party chair agreed that this was a good idea and said that he would extend the invitation. He did extend the invitation.
At the last monthly Republican meeting the President of the Airport board gave their presentation on the airport expansion project. It was also stated by me and by the party chair that next month we would be having a presentation by marc haston to give an alternative viewpoint on this subject.
I received an email today from Marc Haston that basically said the following: "The republican county party chairman, Just called me to tell me I am not going to be allowed to speak before my fellow Republicans at the next meeting. He thinks that since the mayor and the city is supporting this expansion it would not be in the party's best interest to let me explain why I am against this location for the airport. I assumed I was invited so the members could hear both sides of the story and decide for themselves. I feel betrayed by this turn of events."
I emailed our Party Chairman to let him know that I was extremely disappointed in this turn of events. I am disappointed that in a town this size where neighbor knows neighbor that we are not "allowed" to speak publicly and freely on issues. That we are not given a "fair" opportunity to display an alternative viewpoint. It is this type of partisan politics that is killing us locally. In my opinion the will of the people is not being heard on this issue. It is being stifled. Deliberately, and methodically. What are they afraid of that they feel the need to control this issue to this extent? I can't help but feel that there are other inquiring minds besides me that would like to know the answer to that question. When the Party Chair told Mr. Haston that "the mayor and the city is supporting this expansion"……...the mayor...very likely....the city...possibly the majority (but not all ) of the council. But I ask....what about the opinion of the taxpayers? Does no one care what they think? Does no one care to give them both sides of the issue so that they can reflect THEIR preference on this major issue? It appears not! What a sad statement and sad turn of events for our community.


Perhaps the time has come to take a closer look at IC code , Greensburg ordinances, the spirit of the Constitution and the appointment of board members for all of the boards serving the City of Greensburg.
There are two particular examples that come to my mind immediately when contemplating the thought of taxation without representation.
The first one is the Historic Preservation Commission. While this board does not have the power to tax us, they do have a new budget to expend of $4.500.00 that is none the less our tax money. This board if given the permission by the City Council to create a district will then proceed to develop guidelines for that district. These guidelines will adhere and have to be followed if any major changes are made to the exterior of any building in that district. What are those major changes and who determines that? Well according to the Historic Preservation President and the professional from Historic Landmarks ...that will be determined AFTER the district is set in place. Our Mayor disagrees with this premise and stated he feels this is putting the cart before the horse. I applaud our Mayor for this statement of consideration for the people, churches, homes , and businesses in this proposed district.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bNxKrgVrlO4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnv90Uaqd2w
So let's consider this for a moment. This board will be spending tax money, they will create a district, if you are lucky enough (or unlucky enough depending on how you look at it) to be in THEIR district, you will have to apply for a COA (certificate of appropriateness) if you want to make any major changes to YOUR building. All this from members of a board that according to the ordinance that was passed by the City of Greensburg under the previous administration (this is a link to that ordinance : http://www.jj0955.com/PdfFiles/GreensburgCityOrdinances/jj0955CityofGreensburgOrdinance2006-32_Historical_Preservation.pdf does not require that board to have ANY property owners (although they do by the appointment of Mayor Herbert have ONE) from the proposed district on that board. Property owners that would be subject to all of these guidelines and would be sensitive in their thinking of the impact of what they are proposing to become a mandatory requirement rather than a voluntary response. Property owners from said district who should (and in other towns do) represent the majority of this board. Why? While this board does not have the intention of taxing the people in this district and they have made that clear...in many other places it can and does happen. It is called a BID (building improvement district) and here is an information link on what a BID district is. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_improvement_district
While a BID district takes the majority support to become a reality…it is often times a next step that can be pursued in the improvement of a district. This idea was actually listed in the Hyatt Palma study that was performed for Downtown Greensburg.
The $4,500 that is the initial tax money that is being spent by this board could blossom into much more if a BID district were ever to be considered. It seems as though not to have a requirement in place that board members on this board be a MAJORITY held by the property owners of the proposed district could be an example of taxation without representation. While our current ordinance allows this…is this truly in the spirit our country was founded on? It appears in order to afford the best protection of the taxpayers in the proposed district , and in consideration of protecting said taxpayers , the ordinance on the requirements for being a board member to this board should be changed.
Now let's turn to another similar example of this.
The current BOAC (board of aviation commissioners) board. This is a City of Greensburg board of Aviation Commissioners. This board is currently pursuing the expansion of our current airport with a proposed project that broaches 21 million dollars. They are diligently working to come up with a grant of 97 ½ % for this project from the FAA. If they are successful that leaves 2 ½ % for the City of Greensburg to come up with. I understand from one of the city councilman that users of the airport have contributed $100 thousand dollars of the approximately $450 thousand dollars needed. If the balance is raised in any other manner than property tax then this project can proceed without a referendum. A referendum that would find out what it is the taxpayers really want with this project or IF they want this project. However, if for some reason this airport can not sustain itself after expanded …it will come back to the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg to financially support even though they may be put in a position where their opportunity to have a referendum on this issue will be circumvented if this 2 ½ % is raised in any other manner than property taxes. Yes, there will be a public meeting (by FAA procedure) where people can voice their opinions. This is a very complex issue that takes a great deal of time and dedication to sort out and the average taxpayer will not understand it all in one public meeting. 2-3 of these five board members of the BOAC are not currently residents of the City of Greensburg and while none of them pay into City taxes they are in a position to spend City taxpayers money. Whether this may be legal or not....this just doesn't seem in the spirit that our country was founded on. It seems as though this once again, could be a possible situation of taxation without representation.
Could it be that we as taxpayers need to start questioning any new boards, any new funding, any new restrictions, any major community projects and make our City Officials very aware of where we stand on these issues? Perhaps that time has come!


If a referendum were taken on the airport today....what would the results be?
In my Humble Opinion the expansion of the airport is an economic development tool that has the ability to bring in jobs. With that in mind…in my Humble Opinion , I feel that the majority of the people would vote for an expansion of the airport. With that being said, it is also my Humble Opinion that the majority of the people would not want the expansion to take place at the current location.
Let's focus today on but one of the reasons why not to locate the airport expansion at the current sight.
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) as part of their process in determining the viability of expanding at the current sight will require that an environmental study be done to determine if the location is a proper and viable location from an environmental standpoint.
While we will all wait with baited breath to see the results of their study and while I will be the first to admit I have no degree or documented expertise in this arena...let's try to apply some common sense to this consideration.
Let's first look at the plane that had to make an emergency landing on the Hudson River . It is reported in this news article link that quote: " a US Airways jet crash landed Thursday in the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey after a flock of birds apparently struck its engines"... http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,480078,00.html
Next let's consider a follow up news article by FOX titled "FAA Wants to Keep Airline Bird Strike Records Secret". Here are some quotes from this article and the link to access the entire article.
WASHINGTON — "The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing to keep secret from travelers its vast records on where and how often commercial planes are damaged by hitting flying birds.
The government agency argued that some carriers and airports would stop reporting incidents for fear the public would misinterpret the data and hold it against them.
The reporting is voluntary because the FAA rejected a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation 10 years ago to make it mandatory.
The agency's formal secrecy proposal came just after FAA officials said they were going to release the huge database to The Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
The FAA's move to expand secrecy also comes as President Barack Obama is promising a more open government.
"To have the government actually chill public access to safety information is a step backward," said James Hall, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board. "Public awareness is an essential part of any strong safety program." http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,511257,00.html
Now let's consider....why...in my Humble Opinion we SHOULD expand this airport but NOT at the current location.
It is not hard to see that the area where our current airport is located is a great gathering area for our community. Surrounding the airport is the park, the fairgrounds, the bowling alley, the public pool, the skateboard park, the golf course and the softball diamonds.
While expansion of the airport is great when it comes to giving us an extra tool in the arena of economic development, it is not wise to substantially increase through commercial use an airport at this current site. The location …in my Humble Opinion needs to be changed.
In my Humble Opinion increased air traffic equates to an increase in the chances for a disaster.
Now consider the articles referenced above concerning bird strikes and the results. Now consider the number of geese we have all seen at our park located next to the airport. Now consider that there are many other ponds in this area. I have looked at a chart that plots all of the ponds or waterways in this area and they are numerous. These ponds are part of the flight patterns for birds. As evidence of this I have photos of the Hodson/Robbins pond at CR 280 W and the 3 and 46 bypass with a large population of geese present in the pictures.
What would be the advantages to relocating our airport? Some that come to my mind immediatey (but I am sure there are even more ) would be the following:
We can select a viable site BEFORE further economic development takes place in our community which would make the possible sites that would meet the criteria less available.
We could select an area that had additional acreage that could be rented for crop planting and bring in additional income for the airport budget. This additional land would also make a larger area of cushion between the airport and the surrounding property owners and there would be less incidents of skydivers landing on ground that was not airport owned. This would be a positive measure not only for the airport board but for the community as the skydive business represents economic income for this community and income for the airport through fuel purchases.
We could put the airport in a safer area that would have additional opportunities for commercial development right next to the airport.
20 million dollars (even if it is a grant it is taxpayers money) is a quite large investment in our future...wouldn't it make more sense to invest this money in a site that could grow as we need it to ? In my Humble Opinion, if this grant is received it should not just be spent....it should be invested for the betterment of our entire community.
My question to the taxpayers of this community is....Do you want this airport expanded at the current location?
My personal opinion is "NO"! What IS the majority of the taxpayers will on this? I never ask anyone to agree with me. The only thing I ask is that you give this major decision some research and consideration and then contact your mayor , your council representative and the BOAC (board of aviation commissioners) and express your opinon on this matter. There will be an FAA (Federal Aviation Administration ) public meeting on the expansion project as it moves along. Please watch for the publication on this meeting and plan to attend and voice your opinion on this major decision that will be made for our community.
Quote: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has". Margaret Mead - US anthropologist & popularizer of anthropology (1901 - 1978)


This weeks column finds me a bit curious about the cause and effect of how things work politically. I am speaking specifically of the Board of Aviation Commissioners (BOAC)'s meetings.
For the last two months of the BOAC's meetings...their agenda's have been extremely basic. When I say that the August 24th, 2009 meeting did have one extremely interesting item on the agenda called "airport funding". With this video link you can see that the President of the BOAC decided on the last item on the agenda (which was airport funding) that they would on "the last part down there....we'll just skip that". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f5lXK74OXsk
These type of things can normally happen in meetings...but with a proposed and impending 21 million dollar airport expansion in the works it just seems odd to me that in the last two months there has been little to nothing discussed in the public meetings on this.
Not only has it not been discussed in the public meetings...the representative for the engineering firm that the BOAC has been consulting with and who has been at ALL of the BOAC meetings for over two years or better has also not been at the last two meetings.
On the 8/24/09 meeting agenda there was another item of interest. It was a CIP (Capital Improvement Project) meeting that was discussed as you can hear in the above video link and this link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbTsKecdv78
In this link the President of the Airport Board explains that this is a Capital Improvement Project meeting with the State, the FAA, the Mayor, the representative from the BOAC's engineering firm, the President of the Airport board and that they would like to have one more member of the (BOAC) board to go as well. The discussion of who they are sending to this meeting is the closest thing to any discussion about the airport expansion that took place in two months.
You may wonder why I am curious about this.
We all know...as I have stated it before and so has the BOAC board that there will be public meetings as part of the FAA requirements on the airport expansion project. But exactly how does this work?
The lack of discussion in many of the meetings that are leading up to the FAA required meetings for the public....leaves one to wonder if the public will be informed and ready for the public meetings? While airport hanger fees and parachutes that are lost in crops are validly part of their business and need to be discussed....why isn't there more discussion about a 21 million dollar taxpayer funded project that is being proposed?
Then there is this CIP meeting. No one stated whether that will be a meeting open to the public. They were however very specific as to who would be there. Will the media be there? Will the taxpayers of our community be privy to information discussed at this meeting?
I requested a copy of the audio interview of 8/24/09 after the BOAC meeting that was given by the BOAC board vice-president to WTRE radio. In this interview , in giving a synopsis of the meeting that evening (even though this topic was not discussed by the board at this public meeting) the VP of the BOAC states the following: " Everybody is always interested in the Airport Expansion...we're right on schedule for that"! "It's kind of slow but sure...jumping through hoop by hoop and step by step through the FAA to get the airport expansion going on."
Another question comes to mind with this statement. When the required FAA public input meetings take place...will they truly matter or are they merely a formality? Are they merely a forum for irate taxpayers to vent before the project goes ahead as they have planned?
I think you can check back in my previous columns on the Airport Expansion and you will find that I have stated my personal belief for the need of the airport expansion for the Economic betterment of our community. I have also stated that I believe the majority of the taxpayers might also be for an expansion if given the opportunity to voice their preference.... I also believe that the majority if given the chance to express themselves would NOT be for expanding at the current site.
Many might say that this is the FAA's area of expertise and if they ok the expansion at the current site that it must be safe and ok. To that I would merely site this article "FAA wants to keep bird strike data secret"
To quote this article : ." However, a former head of the NTSB said, "To have the government actually chill public access to safety information is a step backward. Public awareness is an essential part of any strong safety program," and Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) said, "Whether the public should worry is for the public to decide, not FAA."
Now, in reference to the above statement....wouldn't it also be reasonable for the people of our community to be allowed to decide whether they think expansion at the current location is safe considering the ball diamonds, the park, the pool, the bowling alley, the fairgrounds and the golf course?
In my opinion, this project appears to be quickly taking off without reguard for the wishes of the majority of the taxpayers of our community being considered. In the Greensburg Daily News article Runway to Reality part 2, dated 8/28/09...it is stated and I quote:
" The Board of Aviation Commissioners president Bill Ernstes and vice president Dr. Jon Dooley, local leaders of the project, had previously said very little taxpayer money is involved with the potential funding from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). Dooley explained that it would not be responsible to the taxpayers to just let the project go". In my opinion this is great rationalizing for pushing this project ahead full speed. Let's consider what is not being said here. We need only look at the Lincoln St. / TIF project to understand what is not being said here. Property tax backing. We need only look at this video link on the John Murtha airport that received plenty of taxpayer / grant/ stimulus money to see the potential for what could happen here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lvzNj0Vobss
No matter how it is painted that taxpayer money will not be involved…especially with this economy property tax backing is a reality. The monies that the FAA grant provides are tax funds whether they are taxing airline gas, or your property or your income. It is tax money. Make no mistake this is a City airport. SO if the income of the airport can not sustain the day to day operations of this expanded airport....your tax dollars will.
I also have one last question I would like for all of you to consider.
In the Greensburg Daily News article "Runway to Reality" dated 8/27/2009, this statement was made by the BOAC president : " About three years ago, Ernstes began work with then U.S. Rep. Mike Sodrel on a regional airport project that would service the airport needs of the area. According to Ernstes, nearby counties were in favor, but the benefits to Greensburg would be limited and organizers in Ripley County were only interested if it could be in their county. Local leaders then began work on the Greensburg-centric airport expansion".
This quote raises many questions for me which I will now propose here . First of all, who determined that the benefits of a regional airport to Greensburg would be limited? Was there a study done to back this up? If so, where can I access a copy of this study? In my opinion, that was an awfully big assumption to be made if there is not information readily available to back that decision up.
Yet another question that arises in my mind concerning the above statement is this: The City election took place in extremely close proximity to the above referenced time period. If it was a proven conclusion that a regional airport would not benefit Greensburg...why then was a regional airport proposal listed on not one , but many of the candidates platforms?
This is a 21 million dollar project that has the potential (if proceeded with properly) to bring great economic benefit to our community and to be a win/win scenario for all involved.
Whether you agree with my opinion on this issue or not, I ask each and every one of you to talk to our local leaders about this airport expansion and plead with them to bring this to a referendum so your voice can be heard. We can't afford not to.


First of all…what is a referendum? A referendum is described in the following quote:
"also called a ballot measure, initiative or proposition. A ballot initiative is a proposed piece of legislation (a law) that people can vote on". www.enchantedlearning.com/election/glossary.shtml
Why am I interested in a referendum? If you read the above description...a referendum not only sounds like a good measure but it also sounds like a FAIR measure to pursue.
Ok, in my Humble Opinion a referendum sounds GOOD and FAIR, but in reference to what am I making this comment?
Let's consider the Airport Expansion Project.
Here we have a project that has blossomed from 11 million to 14 million to 20 million dollars.
This project has promised a grant of 97 ½ % all along that as yet has not materialized. Quite to the contrary there is that email from Mr. Delaney of the FAA that says in fact they do not have a grant as yet.
Then let's ask … what do the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg think about spending 20 million dollars on an airport in times of economic crisis?
What do the taxpayers think about expanding the airport at the current location that is next to the fairgrounds, the park, the bowling alley and the softball parks?
What do the taxpayers think of the possibility that there will be bonds for the balance of the project (that is IF they come up with the grant) that will be property tax backed to pay for this project?
What do the taxpayers think of the priority of this project vs. the priority of water for our region, the Freeland Road extender development, the Lincoln St. Project etc?
What other questions might the taxpayers have on this project?
All of these questions are why in my Humble Opinion a referendum should be pursued on behalf of the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg concerning the airport expansion project.
So how does a referendum happen? First let's give you the simple version and then after that example I will list the IC code that pertains to a ballot question.
"By gathering at least 100 signatures in opposition, taxpayers can trigger ballot referendums to decide the fate of local construction projects that exceed:
$10 million for elementary and middle school classroom projects*
$20 million for high school classroom projects*
$12 million for municipal, county or township projects and non-instructional school projects, such as athletic fields*
*For smaller taxing bodies, the threshold is the figures above or an amount equal to 1 percent of the local tax base (assessed value), whichever is lower. Projects below the thresholds are subject to petition and remonstrance".
I.C. code : http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title3/ar10/ch9.html
If the project is financed by bonds that will be paid back through property taxes, only 100 signatures of the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg and approval of the State on the questions to be asked, are needed to VOTE whether we as taxpayers want this currently proposed airport expansion project.
I am simply asking : Do you as a taxpayer want to have your say in this?
If you do… OR even if you don't ....contact the Mayor or your City Council representative and let your voice be heard. Or take the initiative and start collecting those 100 signatures. Here is information and a link to what is needed :
IC 3-10-9-6
Petition for placement on ballot
Sec. 6. (a) If a statute requires the submission of a petition for the placement of a local public question on the ballot, the petition must: (1) state the day of the election for which the petitioners seek the placement of the question on the ballot; (2) contain the signature of each petitioner; (3) contain the printed name of each petitioner; and (4) state the residence address of each petitioner as set forth on the county voter registration record (or the mailing address if no residence address is set forth on the record). (b) A petition is not valid for the placement of the public question on the ballot on any other election day. As added by P.L.10-1988, SEC.98. Amended by P.L.3-1995, SEC.91; P.L.3-1997, SEC.240. http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title3/ar10/ch9.html
I have a more complete detailing of all that is needed for a referendum that I obtained from the Department of Local Government Finance, Indianapolis office that I am willing to share with anyone who is interested in more research on the referendum topic.
There is however a way that the referendum may not be applicable. If you read IC code 6-1.1-20-1.1. For this project to be eligible it has to be a "Controlled Project". A "controlled project" means any project financed by bonds or a lease, and then it lists exceptions.
If the airport board would actually obtain the grant of 97 ½ % of this project , that would leave the 2 ½ % for the City to come up with for this project to happen.
I spoke directly to a councilman that told me that the airport board has raised approximately 100 thousand dollars from users of the airport.
If the City of Greensburg would choose to use EDIT funds or funds other than property taxes to pay the balance, this project would not be subject to referendum.
I have been researching and somehow this just doesn't seem right. In my Humble Opinion this is a City airport. If the day to day operations of this airport do not sustain it, it will fall back on we the taxpayers to do so. It just seems that there should be some recourse where the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg can have their say as to what they do think on this project that will greatly impact our community.
I will call to your attention that there is a public meeting that is part of the procedure of the FAA. The FAA procedural path is a long and complicated one. I know as I have been in touch with them and they have been extremely helpful in assisting to figure the procedures out. The general public will not be able to do that in one public meeting. A referendum (which will hopefully be applicable) would assure that the wishes of the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg are being heard.
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has". Margaret Mead


I have heard many times concerns expressed with the coming of Honda that we would lose our small town charm, our small town atmosphere. My opinion in reply to that comment is only if we let it happen.
What do we mean we express that we might lose our small town charm or atmosphere? To me, being born and raised here it means simply we might lose our willingness to help others. We might lose our ability to walk in someone else's shoes. I will say again...ONLY IF WE LET IT HAPPEN!
Many major issues are currently being decided or in process of being decided for our community. How we as a community respond will make a statement about whether our community has lost that endearing quality of helping others and walking in someone else's shoes.
If in doubt, I am talking about the issue of eminent domain.
In the past, eminent domain has been treated as a last resort and only in issues for the necessity and common good of the majority. With legislation in recent years that has all changed and eminent domain can now be levied for items such as shopping malls.
I was confronted at one point with the question of what was a dire enough need to implement eminent domain? I would like now to address that question.
My answer to that would be any project that constitutes a necessity of life . Each project has to be evaluated in that manner if we are to retain our small town presence. Our caring of others and what they are going through.
So what are the necessities of life I would consider in making the decision? Food , water, clothing, a job to provide for ourselves.
Barring that....justify taking someones property. Justify taking someones heritage. Justify taking land from someone who has paid into our tax base for years in support of their community that they love just like the rest of us.
Do we need to replace water lines and repave Lincoln St…...the answer is a resounding "YES"! Do we need to take property, jeopardize businesses that have paid into our tax base for years in order to have a Carmelite boulevard? You decide.
In looking at the airport expansion……we have an airport. Can life go on in our community without an expanded airport? Will expanding the airport bring enough jobs and tax base to warrant the investment? Does our proximity to existing airports warrant this expansion? Does any of this warrant taking someones heritage from them? Does any of this warrant "TAKING" anything from anyone.
The one exception I might consider would be in the instance of water. There Is not one of us that can live without it. No business will locate here without it. So from the aspect of living and the aspect of providing for our families (jobs)...water is a basic necessity. Even with that being said, we are a loving and a very giving community.
You only have to look at the funds that are raised for people of need in our community to know that. SO I can't imagine that in the case of water and with the importance of it for our livelihood and our growth that people would not take that into consideration. That doesn't mean that someone would still willingly give up their land…but I do believe that there are some that would. That is the person that is the heart of the small town community that I grew up in.
No one wants to lose what they have worked for. That is a given.
I simply ask when we became a community of eminent domain?
Are we a community of eminent domain?
OR, are we that small town atmosphere community of helping your neighbor and walking in their shoes to see how it might feel?
That is up to all of you to decide. Whether we remain a giving and loving community that cares about their neighbor and what he might be going through or whether growth is warranted at all costs will be decided by whether we sit back and let it happen because it is not happening to me....or we decide to attend the public meetings and speak up and let them know that we value our neighbor and want what is PROVEN best for our neighbor and our community. Be that one person fighting the system. In today's age...they don't have a chance alone.
By all my research it is my opinion that referendum is still an option on Lincoln St. Referendum is contingent on the date the project is bonded and the bonding process was discussed at the last TIF meeting.
Public meetings will take place on the Airport Expansion.
What is it that you want Greensburg to be?
You have an opportunity to make a difference . Don't just sit back and let it happen.

Is leadership on this project questionable ?

For a couple of years we have been hearing from the BOAC board that they have a grant to expand the airport of 97 ½% of the project price. I have made public on more than one occasion the two emails I have in my possession from the FAA that states that not only do they not have the grant but will have to compete for it. I have yet a third email dated 4/21/09 from Mr. Delaney of the FAA that states that "there is no guarantee of federal funds".

Finally in the presentation given by the BOAC board to the Republican Party meeting of 4/13/09 it was acknowledged by the BOAC representative that they would have to compete for this grant.

I participated in confidence and good faith on the alternate site selection committee along with a lot of other good people from our community. I had confidence in the findings of this committee until one fateful BOAC meeting that I happened to attend. The only two people attending this meeting that were on the alternate site selection committee were myself and the representatative from the BOAC board.

At this particular meeting...one of the landowners inquired about the alternate site and when the environmental phase would begin on that site? The reply from the BOAC board member quite clearly indicated that there would not be an environmental phase on the alternate site and that the alternate site committee was merely no more than an exercise to satisfy the county officials who had demanded that an alternate site be looked at prior to making any decisions. Being the only other member of the alternate site selection committee that was present at this meeting to witness this... I was truly in shock. First of all ....it was not nice hearing that you were merely used as a part of a ruse. Secondly I just couldn't conceive that in our small community anyone would take their duties concerning a 21 million dollar project on behalf of the taxpayers with such a cavalier attitude. Thirdly how could I, (even though I was a participant), or anyone in the community take this alternate site study seriously after hearing first hand that it was just a ruse? In my opinion, City Officials should be demanding a new and unbiased alternate site selection study on behalf of the taxpayers before this project proceeds any farther.

In my email correspondence of 4/21/09 with Mr. Delaney of the FAA, he stated that during the master plan and environmental process the airport has to look at different alternatives, not necessarily an alternative site. While our airport did look at an alternative site…it was not required by the FAA. Our local County officials were the ones who required this. I must state at this point that I applaud our County Officials for their attempt to perform due diligence on behalf of the taxpayers. Mr. Delaney also stated : " For an environmental document an airport must look at an option that is a "Do Nothing" , meaning keeping everything at the airport as it is currently". I will also add an additional statement by Mr. Delaney in my email from him of 4/21/09 on the study that was performed locally. He states: "If this study had been federally funded (which it was not) , the FAA along with the sponsor, would carefully consider the future site after considering, but not limited to, environmental concerns, site expansion, and financial viability." While there is no doubt that a new site would cost more...the question is: would a new site be a better investment of our tax money in light of possible future expansion, safety of our parks, softball, fairgrounds etc., bird strikes, neighboring problems with the local skydive business, and possible crop rental area as income to assist in supporting a project of this scope?

While it may or may not be legal...i also question as a taxpayer in the City of Greensburg how you can have two to three members of a City board that live in the county and pay no city taxes ....on this board……expending funds and acting on behalf of the City ? I would suggest that whether it is legal or not that it would definitely look better to the average taxpayer of the City of Greensburg if this situation were corrected. The following link states committee qualifications as well as this quote: "The executive of the eligible entity may, at any time, remove a commissioner from office, but only upon filing in writing with the clerk or other officer performing duties similar to that of clerk in entities having no clerk, the reasons for the removal." http://www.ai.org/legislative/ic/code/title8/ar22/ch2.html

In the purchase of the current airport the BOAC received a grant that is possible each year to be renewed that is intended to pay off the debt of the current facility. With the receival of this grant came a set of assurances that are to be met to remain in compliance of receiving the grants. I have the entire document (in hard copy) and would welcome anyone who wants to see it to take a look at it. I am also posting the link if anyone would like to look it over. http://www.faa.gov/airports_airtraffic/airports/aip/grant_assurances/media/airport_sponsor_assurances.pdf

Some items if interest that I saw were the following:

CONSISTENCY WITH LOCAL PLANS: The project is reasonably consistent with plans (existing at the time of submission of this application) of public agencies that are authorized by the State in which the project is located to plan for the development of the area surrounding the airport. ( I would think that the city and county comprehensive plan would apply in this case). Here is a link to the city and county comprehensive plans: http://www.cityofgreensburg.com/Data%2011x17.pdf http://www.decaturcounty.in.gov/apc/2007_comprehensive_plan/Maps%2011x17_no%20blanks.pdf

CONSIDERATION OF LOCAL INTEREST : It has given fair consideration to the interest of communities in or near where the project may be located.

PUBLIC HEARINGS : In projects involving the location of an airport, an airport runway, or a major runway extension, it has afforded the opportunity for public hearings for the purpose of considering the economic, social , and environmental effects of the airport or runway location and its consistency with goals and objectives of such planning as has been carried out by the community and it shall, when requested by the Secretary, submit a copy of the transcript of such hearings to the Secretary. Further, for such projects, it has on its management board either voting representation from the communities where the project is located or has advised the communities that they have the RIGHT TO PETITION the Secretary concerning a proposed project.

All of the above that I have personally witnessed and or have documentary proof of has made me question the validity and leadership of this board in proceeding in the best interest of the taxpayers of the City of Greensburg with this project

It is my personal opinion that this project of expanding the airport is economically a good and viable move on behalf of the taxpayers of our City, but I say that only from the aspect of knowing that many companies have a check list to consider when they are looking to locate in a new area and in some cases an airport is on that list. I do not feel that expanding the airport will make the airport operations economically more viable. I am suggesting that the input of those taxpayers be sought out as to IF they want the expansion and if they do...WHERE they would like that expansion to take place. There will be public meetings and I encourage each and every City taxpayer to take an interest and come and reflect your own opinion on this very important issue for our community.

This is too large and too important a project to be managed in the manner that I have so far witnessed. This is a project of importance to our community and so should involve the WILL of our ENTIRE community. To move this project forward with the community behind it and in support of it would be a win/win for all involved. Will anyone step forward and lead this project to success? Time will tell.


Some people think that because I have been writing an opinion column and frequently disagree with our Mayor that I do not like our Mayor. Nothing could be further from the truth! I find our Mayor a very personable and very nice person to speak with. That being said...if I did not write a counter viewpoint in order to give the people of this community something to think about and become more informed on the issues....would you even read it? Imagine a column where week after week I told you nothing but how sweet and good looking and constructive our Mayor is being. Seems to me that would get old real quick. There would be nothing constructive in a column of that nature. In my opinion we have too much of this type of political correctness currently and I will not aid and abet this type of thinking. Now that we have that out of the way....and knowing that I also like the City Council Members...let's look at the City Council duties concerning the airport project.

Recently I was made aware of a statement that was made concerning the City Council and the eminent domain issue concerning the airport expansion.

In paraphrase, the statement essentially went like this: Citing IC statute 8-22-2-10 where does it say that the BOAC (board of aviation commissioners) has to get the permission of the City Council to implement eminent domain? Well, looking at this IC code listed by link here http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title8/ar22/ch2.html you will plainly see that it does not state anywhere that the BOAC has to get that permission from the City Council. The question here will not be what the IC code says but how it is interpreted. The question is... Can the City Council stop the Airport Expansion proceedings by a vote of the City Council? In my Opinion, this is a question the City Council needs to be getting an answer to in order to be looking out for the welfare of the constituents that they represent. It just seems to me that if the City Council would vote this expansion project down that the BOAC would not then be acting on behalf of the City Council. All of the powers of the BOAC including 8-22-2-17 (which pertain to getting Federal Funds) are CONTINGENT on the BOAC ACTING ON BEHALF OF THE CITY COUNCIL or other eligible entity. If the City Council just sits back and acquiesces to whatever the BOAC is doing then the BOAC does not have to come before the City Council with each and every request to take action on their agenda.

It does appear however that the City Council could quite apparently stop this project if the BOAC is not acting in good faith on their behalf.

If you look once again at the above listed IC code 8-22-2 including all sections you will see that "acting on behalf of the eligible entity" appears repeatedly. "Eligible Entity" is described as follows:

Sec. 6. "Eligible entity" means a county, city, town, or other municipal corporation or district that may acquire, establish, construct, maintain, improve, and operate airports. As added by Acts 1980, P.L.8, SEC.73.

Now look at 8-22-2-5 (b) and you will see that all 12 subsections of powers are predicated on acting on behalf of the eligible entity. That is why I believe that it is possible for the City Council to stop this project as the BOAC is a board of the City Council. The City Council can take this course of action with or without the approval of the sitting Mayor as the Mayor's role is in the appointment of the board.

Even though the IC code does not specifically say that the BOAC has to go to the City Council for every decision they make...it is also extremely reasonable to draw a conclusion that they also can not operate in a vacuum and without any parameters especially since they are acting on behalf of the City Council.

This opinion column is written ....not for all of you to agree with what I say. It is written to raise questions, to debate information and to encourage you as a taxpayer to take an active part in some of the very important decisions that are being made for our community. If you would like to see the City Council take action on this subject...whatever action you would like to see...then pick up the phone and call your City Council Representative. Let your voice be heard!

I have listed their names and phone numbers here for your convenience!
Council President : Darrell Poling - 663-6644
Council Members: Herb Hunter - 663-2117
Bill Wenning - 662-8507
Helen Gardner – 663-7418
Jamie Cain - 662-0513


At the 9/28/09 meeting of the Board of Aviation Commissioners (BOAC) what I like to call "the inquisition" of my Humble Rumble column took place. I am providing the video links to this meeting for your viewing pleasure.








I looked back over this video and one very important question stared me in the face and I would like to ask this question of the Mayor and the BOAC board. Do you honestly feel that expanding this airport at the current location is what the MAJORITY of the people of this community want? If your answer is "YES" ...then I have another question. How do you know? What are you basing this on? This is an extremely important question to be answered.

This is not a 13 million dollar project like Lincoln street where the "need" is obvious, even though I still question the "need" on a few of the add on items there, as well.

According to the Airport Layout Plan (ALP) commissioned by the BOAC, this is, over a 20 year period , with three separate stages a total price tag of $32,898,200 with the local share (if the grant comes through) being $822,457.00. Within that same 20 year period (again according to the ALP) our airport would go from a 32 acre site to a potential of 254 acres. A 254 acre facility near our ball parks, pool, fairgrounds, park etc? Something that has not been publicly discussed is what will the operating costs be?

Another question that was posed during the airport board meeting was why so many of my articles concentrated on the airport issue. It is simple. Until the FAA approves the expansion at the current location there is hope of changing this projects direction.

It is all up to the people of our community. Do you want an expanded airport? Do you want it expanded at the current location?

All of you out there need to express your right to speak up on this issue whether that be pro or con. We know where the airport board and City of Greensburg stand on this issue through the Public meetings that are held.

There is a new organization forming on the airport issue called "MOVE IT OR LOSE IT"! The initial website is up at www.greensburgairport.com . In the upcoming weeks there will be a great deal of information added to this website for your use. I encourage you to write to all your political representatives on this issue and tell them what it is you do want. There is a contact list provided on this website as well as alternative information to assist you in making your decision of where it is you do stand on this issue.

I would like to end with this quote which I feel is very appropriate for the airport issue.

"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error."

Justice Robert Houghwout

"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error."
Justice Robert Houghwout

"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error."
Justice Robert Houghwout

Marc Haston - mfhaston@etczone.com - 812.593.1492 - © www.greensburgairport.com - All rights reserved.