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County may be on the hook for helicopter storage costs

Monday, March 15, 2010

Red Willow County may have to pay $7,758.70 in storage costs if commissioners want to collect the county's helicopter collateral in Colorado.

County attorney Paul Wood and commissioners Monday morning talked to the manager of a Longmont, Colo. hangar owners' association in whose hangars Ron Willocks has stored the helicopter prototype that he developed with a $300,000 loan from Red Willow County's revolving loan fund. Willocks, operating as "Pawnee Aviation," failed to repay the loan, and the county is attempting to get possession of the helicopter and a flatbed trailer that were collateral for the loan.

HOA manager Mike McRhodes told Wood and commissioners that Willocks owes $7,758.70 in storage fees through Dec. 31, 2009. McRhodes is e-mailing invoices to commissioners today.

Rex Nelson of McCook, who administers the county's loan program, said that Willocks has declined to pay the storage costs due to his medical expenses.

McRhodes told commissioners the helicopter is "not in the way," and that the HOA has an agreement with Willocks to allow storage costs to accrue until the helicopter, trailer and two sets of rotor blades are (re)claimed.

McRhodes told commissioners, "I saw it (the helicopter) tested out here. It's kind of a unique ship ... actually it's amazing to me." He said that, during the test, the helicopter got off the ground, but it didn't seem to have enough lift. With modifications, it was ready for another test, but Willocks' health problems intervened, and the next test never happened, McRhodes said. To get the helicopter to fly again, McRhodes said, it would have to be retuned, but it has been in a controlled environment, not left outside to the elements.

McRhodes told commissioners, "It would be incredibly difficult to put a price on the prototype" such as this. A complete helicopter kit was to sell for $80,000 to $90,000, he said, compared to helicopters that start at a quarter-million dollars.

"It's a pretty solid ship ... a rugged ship," McRhodes said. "It would be worth quite a bit as a production model."

McRhodes said there is a "serious market" for helicopters for less than $100,000, particularly overseas. McRhodes said about Willocks, "He's absolutely on the edge of moving into production with this. I think his health was one issue that disabled the project."

Willocks has agreed to turn over to the county the helicopter, flatbed trailer, two file cabinets and computers with CAD (computer-aided design) drawings that are located in Colorado, and equipment and tools located in McCook.

Commissioners are contemplating the wisdom of paying storage costs to claim the helicopter when the resale value of the helicopter is in question.

There's also the matter, commissioners were told, that a Kansas man claims ownership of the same helicopter because of the substantial amounts of money he invested in the helicopter's development.

Commissioners will continue discussion of the helicopter at 9:15 a.m., at their March 22 meeting.

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You can only imagine what Rex and the commissioners must be talking about amongnest themselves and probably to themselves. Maybe it goes something like this "boy did we really screw up when we gave this guy the money without really checking on him and everyone knows how stupid we were and now we have to make an intelligent decision whether to pay the storage fees, get a helicopter that we don't even know how much it is worth and then find out that another guy actually has claim to it and the good citizens are futher in the whole because of our imeptness." WOW! What are we going to do? We just bought and refurbished an old hotel because there was going to be a company that wanted to rent it and bring a lot of jobs here and it would pay for the building. OOPS! The company can't start and move in until we give them enough money to start their company, in other words there wasn't any company. Sounds like another helicopter boondoggle.

-- Posted by geewhiz on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 4:59 PM

The county needs to go after Willocks for the storage fees. It is only fair that he pay for the wrong he did the county. Yes, the county took a risk and fell short in the long run, but Willocks needs to be held responsible for what he has done. If this is not recovered, there will be a presidence set for others to not pay their way.

-- Posted by edbru on Mon, Mar 15, 2010, at 5:17 PM

edbru you seem like a very intelligent person from your other blogs or opinions. You seem to be a little absent minded about this, Willocks hasn't paid for the loan, probably doesn't intend to and is reported to be ill. The county isn't going to recover anything from him, he doesn't have anything. The presidence has already occured, the thousands spent to refurbish the Keystone Hotel and now the money this ficticious company wants to start. They know they have a bunch of illiterates running the show that will give them the money.

-- Posted by Oh what a wonderful day on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 4:50 PM

I agree about the ones running the show. If handled like the IRS, they could find the way to recover what is due to them. No, I'm not absent minded. I just look outside the box.

-- Posted by edbru on Tue, Mar 16, 2010, at 9:36 PM

Geewhiz and wonderful day

21st century systems has been in operation in McCook for a number of years in the Walsh Brady classroom building on the MCC campus, and has several locations around the nation. visit their website and find out about them and you should see that they are a valuable addition to McCook and the Keystone.

-- Posted by Fundin on Wed, Mar 17, 2010, at 4:14 PM

Geewhiz, wonderful day and all the other big talker - nay sayers out there:

I find myself frustrated at the derogatory comments about the MEDC, City efforts, and anyone that might set forth any risk for betterment in our community. You must understand something fundamental about the MEDC, it is not a "bluechip investment firm". This is an organization that assists the efforts of new businesses (or even those wishing to expand to our area).

If those of you that boldly protest the investments that the MEDC take stock in, would get involved PRIOR to the investments, one of two things would happen.....

#1. Only multi-billion dollar companies with decades of successful track records would receive assistance. (I doubt any of these sure bet/ no risk companies need our help to get off the ground)


#2. You might take a bit of stock in someone's desire to succeed in our comunity and get a sense of what goes into making the decisions as to whether or not the investment is a sound one or not.

You see, any business that's "grass-roots" has an element of risk.... If it didn't then EVERYONE would be self employed and carefree. You may notice that such isn't the case; therefore every so often investments go bad. This isn't to say that investments should be made haphazardly. I feel that the powers to be should weigh risk with benefit and if positive outcome trumps the risks it should be considered. If a proper business plan is in place and referances check out, then the MEDC does what it was created to do.... develope economy.

Now back to a particular comment written earlier,

21st Century Systems is about as close to a "blue-chip investment" as were going to see going through EDC anywhere. They ARE established, they do have a track record, and the do have a viable clientele base. They have operated here in McCook for several years AND have employed several to date. Your comment about them needing money to get started is incorrect, they are already dedicated to the space at the Keystone that they've committed to, the CDBG is for ADDITIONAL space in the basement of the Keystone.

Anyone that spits poison in opposition of something may want to delve a bit deeper in the details to assure accuracy of their argument, otherwise their opinion dosen't hold much credulence.

Then again... Maybe I'm just speaking out of turn.

-- Posted by PensiveObserver on Thu, Mar 18, 2010, at 1:13 AM

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