Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Tri-Rivers Fair Helicopter Rides Still in Holding Pattern

Last week’s Saline County Commission discussion about the possibility of offering helicopter rides during next week’s Tri-Rivers Fair created a lot of buzz. Last week, the Commission lacked information to grant or deny approval to a special use permit. At Tuesday’s meeting, County Counselor Mike Montoya said he had yet to see the insurance and endorsement information he’d requested from Assurance Partners.

The Commission took no action as they “didn’t have the proper information to get this off the ground”. Acting Chairman Robert Vidricksen stopped short of “pulling the plug”; he said he was reluctant to “do anything until“ the Commission “got more information”.

Montoya said that the Kansas State Fair receives 20% of the receipts from the helicopter rides that occur during its fair, but the proposed agreement for the Tri-Rivers Fair allowed for only a “minimum vendor fee”, with no percentage specified. Montoya said he didn’t know if the County’s existing insurance was adequate or if there would be additional costs for insurance. He asked whether the potential income was worth the benefits and risks of the helicopter flights. He said that animals in an unfamiliar fair environment may not respond well to the sound of helicopters. He added that people will be coming and going and the helicopter rides would take up parking spaces and possibly could impact traffic flow.

Commissioner Rodger Sparks said, “Here it is a week before the fair and we’re still up in the air”. Commissioner Mike White remembered the old adage that “a failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part”.

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