Friday, December 29, 2017

Lakeland Airport (KARV) has new courtesy car: Donation of a Toyota Corolla spurred by newspaper article

The Lakeland Airport now has two courtesy cars.

The facility has a 1998 Saturn SE sedan donated to it during the summer of 2016.

An article that appeared in the 2015 Memorial Day special section published by The Lakeland Times and Northwoods River News about Lakeland Airport administrator Jon Schmitz has resulted in the donation of a 2009 Toyota Corolla to the airport as another courtesy car.

April 30, 2015, was the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and Schmitz, a U.S. Army combat veteran of the Vietnam War during 1967 and 1968, was asked during an interview for his thoughts.

Nearly two and a half years later, in his report to the Lakeland Airport Commission at its Dec. 21 meeting, Schmitz said a veteran connection apparently played a role in the airport's acquisition of the Toyota, donated by Gisela Kinst of Hawthorn Woods, Ill.

She had the car, which had been used by her husband, a U.S. Air Force veteran who recently passed away, for sale.

He'd used it to travel back and forth to work.

Schmitz said Kinst heard of the airport's need for an updated courtesy car from Ron Carlson, another resident of Hawthorn Woods who leases a hangar at the Lakeland Airport.

"He mentioned I was a vet, had seen the article in the paper and her husband was a vet and somehow, Ron thought that had something to do with her willingness to donate," he said. "When Carlson saw the article and he saw her car, it was two plus two and all of a sudden, she offered the car to us."

Schmitz said in his report there was one issue that did gave Carlson second thoughts.

In an article about the October airport commission meeting published in the Oct. 31 edition of The Lakeland Times, airport employee Al Spatz was quoted as saying during the meeting the Saturn had been "vandalized extensively on the inside and has a number of unusual mechanical problems which make any proposed repairs to the car not worth carrying out in his view."

"The Saturn is really a piece of junk," Spatz said then. "Other cars we've had in the past were good but this is not even a car really. Recently, whoever took it cut up the ceiling on the inside and shredded it to pieces and the windows and wipers tend to turn on and off on their own. We need something new because it isn't worth putting money into."

Tuesday, Schmitz said that isn't the case.

"It really hasn't been mistreated," he said. "I've been here 11 years and we've never had any sign of mistreating it."

Schmitz said the courtesy car mistreatment question might have temporarily held up the donation process from Kinst but it boiled down to the veteran connection between Schmitz and Kinst's late husband.

"He (Carlson) specifically mentioned the veteran thing," Schmitz said.

He said it cost $600 to get the Toyota from Hawthorn Woods to the airport, $100 for fuel for the Corolla and the other car used by two individuals to make the trip and the rest to pay them for bringing the car to Arbor Vitae.

"I talked to her a couple times," Schmitz told the commission last week. "Very nice gesture and it seems like a good car."

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.lakelandtimes.com

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