Paxton to discuss airport operator proposal

Paxton to discuss airport operator proposal

PAXTON — The city council's airport committee will meet Thursday to discuss a proposal from Gifford resident Jef LeRette, who more than a year ago sought to lease the city-owned hangar at the local airport and serve as the facility's fixed-base operator.

Alderman Brad Marshall, former chair of the airport committee, said he didn't think the city should pursue further negotiations with LeRette, saying the pilot had been remiss in not getting back to the city sooner. Marshall said he didn't think Paxton would benefit from LeRette serving as fixed-base operator for the airport while also operating a skydiving school at the airport. Marshall said he had problems with LeRette wanting to serve alcohol to skydivers after their dives on what is city property and building some bunks for them to stay in the hangar. Marshall said that would not help sales at the local motel and restaurants.

Former alderman and local pilot Bill Wylie, who attended the meeting, also opposes doing business with LeRette just as he did last year. But another local pilot, Rob Steiger, said LeRette has a "solid business in the middle of nowhere in Flatville. Why don't you move forward with it, see what he has to say?" said Steiger.

Alderman Bill Goben agreed. "Get something going on it (the airport) and I won't want to close it." Three years ago Goben led an effort to close the airport. That measure was defeated 8-3.

But Marc Amore, the newest alderman and the airport committee chair, said he is ready to move forward with discussions with LeRette.