Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Carroll County Commission to vote on airport donation, again

Carroll County Commissioners (from left) Amanda Bevard, David Babson and Mark Hounsell will meet Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. 

OSSIPEE — Carroll County Commissioner Mark Hounsell will today again seek support today for giving $3,000 in county money to the Eastern Slope Regional Airport in Fryeburg, Maine.

Hounsell sits on the airport's board of directors and said the airport had asked for the money.

At the county commissioners' Nov. 22 meeting, Hounsell (R-Conway) asked fellow commissioner Amanda Bevard to support the request. During the discussion, Bevard said commissioners hadn't gotten any updates from the airport.

Hounsell responded that "I go to the (airport authority) meetings and stay really abreast of what they are doing." He went on to say that the airport is led by "really capable professionals."

The airport's executive committee consists of Chairman Don Thibodeau of Fryeburg, Vice Chairman Carl Thibodeau of Conway, Treasurer Gene Bergoffen of Fryeburg and Secretary Ed Bergeron of North Conway.

But Bevard said she wanted to see flight records. She also asked how the airport managed to lose $28,000 in the second quarter.

Hounsell said, "I don't know." He added that $3,000 isn't a lot of money to give the airport, noting they are trying to build a hangar there as well as expand the runway and improve their apron.

"Not being an airplane enthusiast, I'm at a loss to describe what they are doing as what they should be doing except that I trust the people who are doing it," said Hounsell.

If the donation is approved by the county, it would be the first time Carroll County has given to the airport, according to County Administrator Ken Robichaud.

The commissioners need to finish up their budget so it can be forwarded to the delegation, a group of 15 state representatives who will set the county budget by next April.

Bevard opposed the motion and refused to second it under Robert's Rules of Order, saying she wanted to wait until Commissioner David Babson (R-Ossipee) could return for the next weekly meeting.

She also said the airport seems to be running a smaller budget next year than this year. The current year is $286,000 and next year's proposed budget is $253,000. 

"So, they need less money than they did last year so they don't need $3,000 from us," said Bevard.

But she agreed to allow the topic to come up again today when Babson is present, Hounsell said.

Hounsell said the airport is also hitting up Oxford County for $3,000.

The issue of the airport is a touchy one to many. Fryeburg held a town vote in October on whether to allow town officials to sell excess airport land to Poland Spring for a bottling plant. The proposal failed by a wide margin.

And according to airport authority board member Steve Bender of Lovell, Maine, the authority’s executive committee had conducted secret discussions on the proposed land sale.

Carl Thibodeau said in a letter to commissioners that the airport is trying to expand its services.

Thibodeau wrote:

"From time to time people have asked 'Why should New Hampshire’s local, county, state and federal governments assist in an airport located in the State of Maine?' The answer that satisfies is this, 'Over 65 percent of the airport activity serves New Hampshire.' Additionally, for the first time that any of us are aware of, the state of New Hampshire and the federal government allowed for a portion of the Northern Borders grant allocated for the Granite State to be given to an airport located in Maine. That was the state and the feds realizing this regional airport is vital to the economy of all of Carroll County.

"A recent example of the value of the Airport to Carroll County’s economy is evident in the recently completed $8.5 million Phase One of the North Conway Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore project. Five years ago, when the principals of Cranmore Mountain Resort made a commitment to this expansion at a premier ski resort, it was the availability of an airport that was key to their decision. In fact, if an airport with the proper capacity was not available, the purchase of Cranmore Mountain would not have happened. The boom to the local tourist economy from the construction of Kearsarge Brook Condominiums at Cranmore will be substantial," Thibodeau said.

Wednesday's commissioners' meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m. at the county complex administration building at 95 Water Village Road in Ossipee.

Original article  ➤

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