Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A BAD CITY DECISION?

  

Just say NO.  This is not Nancy Reagan's answer to the drug problem, it's the answer you get from the "Friendly City" when you try to do something nice for local pilots.  First, we were not allowed to let a Cottage Grove pilot, Mike Mann, park his plane in our hangar when the Cottage Grove Airport was being repaved.  It might have set a legal precedent was their pathetic answer.  The only precedent it would have set, is that Creswell Airport is a "Friendly Airport" that is willing to help other pilots.  And now, because I lost my medical and no longer fly or pay the $22.00 per month for airport access, we are not allowed to have a fly-in like the many others we've had in the past.  Local pilots from Cottage Grove, Eugene, Independence and a few others, have enjoyed coming to Creswell, parking on our lawn and meeting with other local pilots and their families.  There is always a nice lunch during this get-together. We have also had city councilors who have attended and enjoyed a plane ride and meeting with the pilots.  There is no excuse for saying no to this request.  There is nothing legally different, other than we are not paying the $22.00 per month.  I can say, there will be around fifty people who will be disappointed this years fly-in is not being allowed.  This decision will only enforce the negative impression so many have regarding our airport and management.
Creswell, "The Friendly City"  
I ask, can anyone think of a reason this should not be allowed?  A number of these special friends have since passed on.  Why would a city stop friends from enjoying each other's company? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qX7I8zZUXu4   

Thanks for all the support we have gotten.

Jerry Norcia  



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Open Letter To Mayor Stram

Dear Mayor Stram,

Thank you for your e-mail explaining you are going to look into the policy of deeding hangars to the city and also the history of the Dave Wright/City situation. 

I hope you don't mind me sharing some thoughts regarding both situations.  About building hangars and "donating" them to the city, Barb and I are familiar with this as we built one row of hangars and were partners in a second row.  We knew upfront, after building hangars that we would be donating them to the city.  There are other airports that do the same.  Personally, I don't have a problem with this.  It's a good thing for the city as they are exempt from property tax.  The city then charges what's called "In lieu" of taxes to those having hangars.  This is more income for the city and of course, should increase the airport budget.  At other airports like Eugene and Cottage Grove, to mention just a couple, they pay property tax to the county.

As you will find, those who built and donated hangars to the city, will receive a twenty year lease with two ten year options.  While they may say they own a hangar or are selling a hangar, they are in reality selling their lease.  People will still say, this is my hangar, just a figure of speech.

About the Wright hangar situation.  First, let me say, I have been raised to have a special respect and faith in teachers, priest, ministers, police and a few others.  During my life time, it's these people who have given meaning to my life.  I feel the same to this day at age 77.  With that said, I have to admit, as a minister, I expect the same from you.

Sadly, I have to believe you will find what Mark Shrives and the airport manager did, will most likely be considered legal by our city attorney and court system.  I would like to believe, however, because who you are and what you've been for some thirty years, you will find it was morally wrong.  The bottom line is this, $160,000 value was taken because of a little over $1,300 was owed to the city.  This, after the city put them out of business.  To make matters worse, Dave Wright has since passed away.

I have to believe, with your leadership and faith, with the help of our city attorney's suggestions and the support of our city administrator and council, this moral shame that was perpetrated by a past administration can be corrected.   

Sincerely,
Jerry Norcia   

As it's turned out, Colin Powell said best why I no longer attend council meetings, or attempt to be involved in local politics.

"Leadership is solving problems. The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Guest Editorial

                                          By Jerry Norcia

 

I can’t help but wonder what I would do if tasked with making our City better.  Some of the decisions of  past city administrations, whether well conceived or not, have left us with situations that we must live with.  Specifically, in hindsight, did Creswell need a massive city hall, or a water treatment plant that would support a city of 25,000, five times our actual population.  A right-sized city hall and water treatment plant obviously would have cost a great deal less.  Additionally, users keep paying for the water treatment plant through higher water rates.

 

So, what can be done after the fact?  I suggest we learn from our mistakes and cut costs now and invest more prudently going forward.  We should be investing in ways that encourage businesses to come to Creswell.  Here are 4 ways:

 

1) Greatly reduce our exceptionally burdensome City Development Code.  This obviously adds troublesome hurdles and costs to potential business owners and is a disincentive to invest here.

2) Make our airport a money making proposition for our city and businesses.  We should change the policies and attitudes that are preventing potential business owners from investing in airport related businesses.  It seems there is talk of bringing water and sewer to the airport.  Doing this could cost millions of dollars.  Wouldn’t a well and septic system do just fine for that size area for a fraction of the cost? 

3) Invest in keeping up with ODOT transportation requirements.

4) If small business is the backbone of our country, why not give new small businesses some kind of a tax break for a period of time?  This is routinely done in Enterprise Zones throughout the country for large companies, why not the little guy?  

 

In looking around Creswell, you can see people struggling to make a living along with the many empty store fronts in downtown and near the old Ray's area.  Why not entice people to come here to go into business, since businesses hire employees, who then spend money in other businesses in town?

 

Perhaps we should look for and elect people with business experience to run Creswell.  Business minded people know what would make Creswell attractive for investment.  Also, if we had people with business experience running the city, we wouldn't need to continue hiring "consultants" to help us decide things.  We hired a consultant to compare how other Oregon airports are being managed and how they make money.  Nothing was done with the findings.  Previously we hired a consultant to decide if skydiving was safe at the airport.  The consultant chosen had no skydiving experience nor airport experience, and was only hired for political reasons in any case.  After hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, AND a $50,000 settlement, the skydivers are back on the airport. 

 

It appears now that the city is going to pay for yet another consultant to decide for us if we would be better off having our own police department or to continue to pay the sheriff's department for our protection.  You would think that our own business minded people have the ability to look into costs and other considerations without hiring an outsider.  In fact, we have already had several people do research on this idea. Why not let our own people make decisions?  Once again, the bottom line is this, we need to cut costs where we can and invest where there are huge payoffs.  Consultants are too often a political tool, whose advice is less valid than our own.

 

As far as cutting costs, Creswell for Affordable Water is focused on that.  While it may appear that the idea of putting it on the ballot is to give the people a vote on whether or not to make needed repairs to the water supply system, that is not the primary reason.  It is intended to make our city leaders look for ways to cut costs FIRST before asking the citizens for more money than the amount allowed by the increasing CPI.  It would keep the voters involved and aware when the city takes the easy route by charging users more money and not looking for other ways to save that money. 

 

Our councilors are very nice and dedicated people.  Let’s encourage them to get serious about cutting cost, helping existing businesses, and providing an environment that attracts new businesses.  We would all benefit.  Creswell has great potential, let's not waste it.

 

I would like to end with a quote from Colin Powell,

"Leadership is solving problems. The day people stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership."

 

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Making it Wright



"Making it Wright" is a documentary by Paul Bright, of Paul Bright Films.  The outcome is not something we expected.  This Mayor and council have the ability to correct this wrong by a previous administration and do not seem interested.  It's difficult to believe that any administration would accept and live with knowing this man owed the city a little over $1,000, and they revoked his lease, in essence taking his hangar and business.  A value of over $160,000.  The reason we didn't expect this outcome is that our Mayor was a minister for some thirty years.  Wouldn't you expect him to be the moral leader and convince his council to "Make it Wright"?  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

HEALING THE AIRPORT IMAGE

       The City of Creswell needs to candidly look into how they do business at the airport. Correcting what happened to Dave Wright, of Wright Brothers Skydiving, would be a good place to start. Unlike most airports, Creswell has a policy of making anyone who builds a hangar on the airport "donate" that hangar to the City. In turn, the person gets a twenty-year lease with two ten-year options. The reason airport property is negotiated this way is the City is then exempt from paying property tax. While the City doesn't pay property tax, they still charge the lease holder the equivalent of a property tax. Not a bad thing if these funds are used to benefit the airport, but that is not the case.

For example, Dave Wright spent $110,000 to build a hangar to go into the skydiving business, which ultimately, he was unable to use. As some of you know, the City of Creswell spent hundreds of thousands of dollars defending a lawsuit by Eugene Skydivers after they were no longer allowed to land on the airport. Fortunately, Eugene Skydivers found a farmer's field to land on to stay in business, but Dave Wright was not so lucky.
Dave was continually behind in his rent and other fees, prompting the previous City administration to revoke his lease. 
 In essence, taking his investment and his dream of having a skydiving business. Unfortunately, Dave passed away shortly after.

The problem? Even though Dave Wright owed the City a reported $5,800 in lease fees, the City kept the remaining value of his lease, approximately $100,000. His widow and children received nothing. The City is now renting the hangar Dave built and keeping all the income.

This mayor and council have the legal right to reinstate the hangar lease to Dave's widow and children. It's no secret what happened to Dave Wright, and it doesn't bode well for the Creswell Airport's image. I respectfully ask that our mayor and councilors do the right thing and make this right. It would be a great start to a new image and a more unified community.

In talking with a number of religious men about the moral aspects of this issue, they all said it would be the right thing to do, to give the widow the remainder of the lease.  One Minister quoted James 4:17
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

There would be a great deal of pride in a Mayor and council willing to give up the rent money from a hangar that was gained in a questionable manner.  What a warm story that would make.  Let's wish them well.                                                         

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Airports are supposed to be fun!

Dear Editor,

Let's Be Neighborly,

Whoever took down the sign, "Creswell The Friendly Town," knew what they were doing, at least as far as being neighborly goes.  The Cottage Grove Airport will be closed for 50 days while they repave the runway.  There are a lot of fellow pilots who could use some help with a place to keep their planes during this time.  

My wife and I have had access to the Creswell Airport for eighteen years, and there has never been a problem.  Presently, we don't have a plane, but continue to pay $270.00 per year for this access.  Wanting to be good neighbors, we thought it would be nice to offer at least one of the Cottage Grove pilots the use of our hangar for this period of time at no cost to him. 

I suggested he explain to the airport manager that he has an invitation to park his plane in our hangar.  He did that and was told she would have to ask the city administrator.  At this point, because she is new, I wrote the city administrator inviting her to come and look at our hangar and our airport access.  She never came and said she would ask the city attorney what he thought.  She later wrote and said she would once again discuss this with the airport manager, the very place where this started.  I then got a note from the airport manager saying in part, "Although the City understands that the circumstances for this request is not ordinary, it is the City’s legal opinion that to allow this deviation from the RTTF agreement could create future liabilities and/or precedence that the City may not be able to defend.  It is for this reason that we cannot accommodate your request.  Shelley Humble, Airport Manager."

This took over three weeks, a decision that should have taken five minutes.  There would be no liabilities or a precedent that could be set.  We are the only ones with airport access.  This is just one more example of why this airport is a failure.  The only precedent they would be setting is one of being friendly and willing to help others.   

Jerry Norcia
Creswell,       


Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Creswell Police Department

Does the sound of that make you wonder, could we have our own Creswell Police Department, CPD?It appears having our own police department is not on the agenda with our present mayor and council.  We can't help but to wonder, what could our city really get for what it's costing to contract with the sheriff's department?  If the price of one deputy is $175,000 for one year, what else are we paying for with the other two deputies and the "one third time of a sergeant?"First, let's assume we are serious in forming our own Creswell police department.  We could easily start with the $175,000 that is under discussion.  I was told the budget for the Sheriff's Department was $525,000  plus $133,200 from the $6 dollars added to the utility bill from 1850 households for a total of $658,200  That would pay for the original two deputies and one third time sergeant and now the third deputy which is an additional $175,000.  If that number sounds high, I believe it is.  That is what got us interested.First, we would like believe we are working towards our own police department.  With that in mind, let's look at what we could get for the $658,200If you look at  http://www1.salary.com/OR/police-officer-salary.htmlYou will see a number of Oregon Cities police salary'sLet's use the City of Corvallis who pays $73,691.00 per year.  That is with full benefits, sick leave, pers, medical etc.Let's say we hire four officers$294,764   Now one chief or Captain  $127,000$421,764   Three police cars, $38,500 Ford's SUV fully equipped $115,500$537,264   With these numbers, we would still have $120,936 left over for additional insurance  equipment and renting jail cells.  Lane county said we could use their jail cells for felony criminals and rent in Springfield or Cottage Grove for lesser criminals.  Of course there are expenses that are not listed here.  We need to look at what else is needed and what the cost would be.On top of the $120,000 left over, there will be money taken in from citations.  While that is an unknown number it should be a factor when looking into this possibility.  Junction City said they took in $250,000 one year.  Of course that is a bigger town with a much larger area and population.  There is also $40,000 being spent on a Creswell code enforcement person.  Like other police departments, that can be done by our police officers, another savings.Just take the $175,000 we are talking about for the third Sheriff.  That would pay for one police officer and two patrol cars for $150,691 with $24,309 left over.  Keep in mind, the salaries used here need not be exact.  We have a much smaller population and only 1.72 square miles to patrol.  The police cars are a one time cost with ongoing maintenance. We should mention, there are many grants to help small towns start their own police departments.First, we should talk with the Sheriff, and ask, if we hire an experienced police sergeant, would he be allowed to work with our two contracted sheriff's?  The sheriff's could groom our sergeant to the ways of Creswell, the people, the area etc.  After a brief period with our deputy's he would be on his own, with our police car.   This Creswell Police Sergeant would be paramount in forming our department.  He will have to be especially qualified and promotable.  He will play a big part in hiring and training.
There are many benefits to having our own police who live and work in the city.  From others I've talked with, they are very proud of their officers.  I can see them spending more time visiting the schools, library and just be more visible.  Just compare with only one small town, Oakridge Oregon, where they say.  "Oakridge Police Department is comprised of a Chief, a Deputy Chief, three (3) full time officers, five (5) fully trained reserve officers, four and a half (4.5) dispatchers, and Cadets.  We also have a K-9 Officer that works with the school, on patrol and mutual aid to other agencies."At the very least, we should put out an employment opportunity for a police sergeant and see the qualifications of those applying.
What are your feelings? Please express your concerns and ideas.  It could be a benefit to our city.