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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Tear down that wall

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Yes Sir! Yes Sir, McCook will build a 12-foot high fence around our airport. Yes Sir, the citizens of McCook will be happy to pay our share of the $1.7 million fence, latest estimate being only $88,475 from local tax revenue. After all tax money is free and everybody knows we can't be too safe!

Wow what a boondoggle! It is hard to believe that the City Council even considered the tom-fool project, much less failing to reject it out of hand and tell the Feds to pound sand! The plan is a 12-foot high chain link fence, topped with barbed wire, and complete with a four foot deep underground concrete footing to "keep out burrowing rodents"! That fence would be overkill for a prison, much more appropriate for the southern border of Texas. For sure, it would keep out (or in) deer and coyotes or any other of our "dangerous" indigent wild life.

The reason for the project is, of course, to hopefully keep daily "essential air service," the feeder airline that provides round-trip connections to Denver International Airport. As structured, our airline service can only continue to exist with massive infusions of federal cash to keep it in the black. With a Congress long overdue in looking for ways to cut spending, it appears to me that the massive subsidy required to keep "essential air service" intact will soon be history. On its own, there is no way that any feeder airline, as now structured, can compete with the cost of simply driving the short four-hour trip to Denver. With airline service gone, the need for our new airport fence will simply evaporate, but then the City will still be stuck with the ongoing cost of maintaining the monstrosity.

Evidently the requirement for the fence came from a "wildlife study completed in 2010" undoubtedly done by some "expert" who perceived great danger for landing and departing aircraft, especially airliners. The whole project has the odor of something dreamed up by a faceless bureaucrat in the FAA who eyed a huge surplus of unspent Federal gas tax money collected from aviation fuel. It has been my observation over the years that politicians get the itch to spend whenever any large sum of tax money accumulates. This airport fence project smells like another example of scratching that itch.

Many of my dear readers know that this pundit is employed teaching people to fly general aviation aircraft. For the aspiring pilot, one of the most difficult tasks to learn is how to land the aircraft. To learn the skill, repetition seems to be the best teacher. Out of curiosity I researched my log book and was surprised to learn that in the past 12 months I logged 612 takeoffs and 612 landings on the McCook airport. That number of takeoffs and landings is probably about average for me during the past two decades. That same 12-month period most likely includes the time when our visiting "wildlife study" expert was monitoring the airport for his study of dangerous wildlife.

Where is all that dangerous wildlife at the airport? I personally never had an encounter with deer or coyotes in my comings and goings at the airport, but then I have only been using it regularly since 1980. Personally I have no recollection of any wildlife/airplane incidents in all that time, but then I am only a local guy and not far enough from home to be an "expert."

In all honesty I have seen both deer and coyotes on the airport. One time, I observed a herd of about six deer crossing the airport from Kelley Canyon on their way to the canyon on the east side of the airport. Several years ago there was a doe that evidently raised a fawn in that east canyon, but she always stayed clear of any runway. Very early one morning, a couple of weeks ago, I spied a coyote trotting in the grass alongside runway 4-22 and enjoyed watching him grab a mouse for breakfast. Actually, I consider it a privilege to catch a glimpse of wildlife in the wide open space that is our airport.

Now if one wants to clear out a hazard to aircraft, they could address the turkey buzzards that for some reason like to soar over the departure end of runway 22, the flight path that goes southwest over Valmont. I have had to turn to dodge those masters of flight on several occasions. Then, too, our resident population of Canada geese shows no respect and flies right through our traffic patterns. Somehow that 12 foot high fence will have no effect on ameliorating the very real hazard of birds flying near the airport.

Now I am happy to propose a solution to pay the City's share of the airport fence project. We have all noted that well known companies have been privileged to pay part of the cost of construction of sports arenas, football stadiums and the like in exchange for having their names placed on the venue. Recently our airport was officially named the "McCook Ben Nelson Regional Airport" in honor of our hometown Senator. I think that it would be appropriate for U. S. Senator Ben Nelson to personally pony up the $88,485 for McCook's share of the cost of that federally mandated project. It would only be fair! But then possibly Senator Ben would make a phone call to the appropriate FAA official pushing this project and it could be stillborn. It richly deserves to be unfunded and committed to the dust bin of history.

That is the way I saw it.

Dick Trail

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Ben Nelson and his boondoggles are the poster children for everything that is wrong with our nation since the Obama regime took over. What a blight Ben Nelson's infamous name is upon the good folks of McCook! BTW, did you finally move Ben's statue out to a more suitable venue like the sewage treatment plant?

-- Posted by 9th ID on Tue, May 10, 2011, at 9:01 PM

9th ID. Ooh your comment was not nice!

-- Posted by Dusty on Tue, May 10, 2011, at 9:42 PM

I worked a bit with 'Spooky' things, and my Chicken Little mind is wondering if the Army Reserve Center will be inside, or outside the required 12 ft fence. Militarily speaking, the Center being inside would then facilitate an almost perfect Military Supply Center, to keep people out, or an almost perfect Concentration camp area, to keep people in. Now, I am quite sure that our leadership would never consider placing Americans inside a Barbed Fence, but something does not fit the protection from running animals thought pattern. But, then, I do have a Chicken Little mentality, I hear. Hmmm.

I do like the idea of Ben protecting that which has his name on it. Ha. Hm mm, electrified??

-- Posted by Navyblue on Wed, May 11, 2011, at 3:08 PM

While Dicky makes some good points about the excessive fence, I wonder if old Dicky Boy would pony up with the $88,000+, if the city council had voted to name the airport after him?

9thID guess you forget that ol' W Bush used to praise Ben for all his support for Bush policies.

Hell Ben voted Republican more often than many Republicans.

I smile everytime I go down Norris Ave. and see the statue, just like Dicky boy I'm sure. LOL

-- Posted by goarmy67 on Wed, May 11, 2011, at 6:31 PM

Dick Trail: Spot on the mark, sir. I could not have expressed the disgust any better.

Navyblue: Hammer + nail. There is no other reason to erect a 12 foot chain-link fence --and then top it with barbed wire. Nor is a four-foot deep concrete footing necessary. This project appears proper to a military installation--or worse, as you aptly pointed out, a prison camp.

If the political machinery follows through with this foolish monstrosity--and Lord knows the McCook City Council will do it just because they much enjoy spending other people's money on their ill-conceived pet projects--then watch for which side the barbed wire is angled. If it faces outward--then your first guess is correct. However, if it faces inward... Well then I hope you have an ample stockpile of ammunition, because you will need it.

-- Posted by Bruce Desautels on Wed, May 11, 2011, at 8:02 PM

Go get-em Dick! We just spent a bunch of Obama bucks, here in Fairbanks because of runway incursitions.....

-- Posted by greb on Wed, May 11, 2011, at 10:37 PM

"ill-conceived pet projects" i.e.; the walking trail!

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Thu, May 12, 2011, at 11:11 AM

@ Rural Citizen

Just because you don't use the walking trail does not mean it was ill-conceived. I find it to be a fantastic addition to our town and have used it a number of times during sponsored 5k's, family outings, and just to get away alone. I pass people on that "ill-conceived" trail each time I go as well. The only problem with it is that it is not longer.

-- Posted by speak-e-z on Fri, May 13, 2011, at 10:58 AM

I infact do use a portion of the walking trail. I just don't understand why it had to be extended all the way to Walmart? How many people actually use that cross walk and walk to Walmart? Through the park and East behind the Event Center is beautiful. Otherwise, NOT! and probably not used as much as you even think. That's why the City has sidewalks!

-- Posted by Rural Citizen on Mon, May 16, 2011, at 4:31 PM
Response by Bruce Crosby:
The sidewalk to Walmart is not part of the walking trail, and is built to sidewalk standards, not those used on the walking trail. It is a city sidewalk extending service to a property in the city limits.

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Dick Trail
The Way I Saw It