|Gering council supports new air provider: Revitalization grant a go, property accounted for|
|October 30, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
Members of the Gering City Council unanimously voted to support a new Essential Air Service provider at the Western Nebraska Regional Airport.
A letter of support will be sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation urging acceptance of the bid from Aerodynamics, Inc. to provide air service from Scottsbluff to Denver. The company, one of several bidders for the routes, made their presentation last week to the Airport Authority.
Gering Mayor Ed Mayo was at the meeting and said Aerodynamics was the highest bidder among the interested airlines. “The board asked about Great Lakes Airways, the current provider, but the Aerodynamics people asked why we would give the bid to a company that’s already in default of its contract,” he said.
Because of pilot shortages, Great Lakes Airways has been plagued with delayed and cancelled flights in the past.
“Aerodynamics will guarantee their flights whether it’s one passenger or 50,” Mayo told the council. “They plan to fly out of here round trip twice daily and once a day on Saturday and Sunday with a 50-passenger aircraft.”
Aerodynamics also told the Airport Authority that because the community supports a number of other activities, they would be interested in charter flights to Nebraska and Colorado athletic events.
The Airport Authority accepted the Aerodynamics bid and asked the municipalities in the county to send letters of support. Mayo said that both North Platte and Kearney, which Aerodynamics would also serve, has expressed support for the airline.
The Atlanta-based airline would have a presence in the community with planes hangared at the airport.
In other action, Rawnda Pierce, executive director of Twin Cities Development, told the council she’s received official word from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development that the city $350,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant has been approved.
The next step is for the city, downtown businesses and the public to come together to discuss what amenities would best work for the area. Out of the state funding, $162,000 will be available to downtown businesses for improvements to their building facades. Another $8,000 will be used to remove any Americans With Disabilities Act barriers in the buildings. And $160,000 will be used for a proposed public space.
The local committee’s proposal would open the parking lot on 11th Street between N and O Streets to connect the area with 10th Street through the alleyway between Valley Bank and Valley Insurance. The area could be used for farmers’ markets, art shows and perhaps an ice skating area in winter.
Pierce also updated the council on progress with the Brownfield Grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to identify abandoned buildings that need to be removed. Environmental testing for potential hazards such as asbestos and contaminated soil will be identified and another revolving loan fund will be available for demolition costs. Pierce identified the two buildings most in need of work are the former Lane Auction House and the former WESTCO grain elevator, both of which are owned by the city. The former Packerland facility on 7th Street has also been identified for future inspection.
“The EPA will probably tell us the Lane building should be demolished because it’s full of asbestos,” Pierce said. “That will probably be our number one priority.”
In another item in the news, Citizen staff learned last week that the Gering Police Department has completed its investigation into the use of city LB 840 funds in the former Gentry Clinic building on 10th Street designated for The Daily Grind owned by Brad and Linda Staman. Police Chief George Holthus said they have accounted for all city property in the building, there was no theft involved and the city suffered no financial loss. Holthus said any remaining dispute over property or the lease will need to be worked out between the property owners and former tenants.