Allen County commissioners agreed Tuesday morning to a contract that will keep a flight school at Allen County Airport for at least six years.
Accel Aviation, a new business started by the Lorenzo and Jackie Jensen family, purchased two buildings, an office and dormitory, and two airplanes that belonged to Star Bright Aviation, which had operated a flight school here for about 18 months. Accel will have hangar space rent-free for three years, under its contract with the county, pay $100 a month for the next three years and then have annual options for contract renewal. Accel will share utility costs with the county.
Jackie Jensen told the Register this morning that in addition to herself and Lorenzo, their children, Zo and Dakota Jensen and Nicolle Hoepker, and their son-in-law, Justin Hoepker, were owners of Accel. Three Star Bright flight instructors, Rob Jordan, Sherri Despain and Nathan Smith, now are employed by Accel.
“We’re pleased with all three, especially Rob, who has about 14,000 flight time, most of it as an instructor,” Jensen said. “He’s a very versatile instructor,” which permits Accel to offer a full range of training options.
In addition to the two Star Bright planes, one a twin engine, Accel’s fleet will have in it two aircraft that the Jensens owned, including a Beech 60 Duke, recently manufactured in Wichita.
“The Duke is a high-altitude plane — it can go as nearly as high as jets — and can fly at 275 miles an hour,” Jensen said. “It’s pretty unique for around here.”
Accel offers a full line of flight instruction, including an intensified and accelerated program that permits students to earn certification more quickly. It also soon will offer charter service for cargo and people, and has planes available that pilots may rent.
Though it had had what Jensen called a very successful run in the flight instruction business, Star Bright sought a way out of its commitments when the economy soured, including financial assistance from the county.
BILL KING, director of Public Works, told commissioners he would wait until weather warmed before making repairs to the county’s 180 miles of hard-surfaced roads, damaged by moisture and extreme cold earlier this month.
“There’s a time to repair and there’s a time not to repair,” he said, noting heavy equipment could worsen condition of the roads.
King said the county’s rock roads, totaling about 820 miles, “are starting to firm up.” Those roads became spongy when snow melted and, with roadside ditches filled with the snow, water flowed over the roads’ surfaces.
King said Capt. Sean Linn, 891st Battalion administrative officer, had asked permission to store office and other equipment removed from armories being closed in a hangar at the airport.
The hangar space is available, King said.
“We can accommodate the National Guard and I am sympathetic,” he said, but also expressed some reluctance because storage time was estimated at a year or more. “Also, we have a policy that hangars may be used only for aircraft and related things.”
Commissioners tabled a decision on the request.
JIM GILPIN, director of Community National Bank’s new trust department, proposed to commissioners that they move the county’s Solid Waste Assurance Trust Fund from First Option Bank, Paola, to Community National.
The trust contains about $850,000 and is in place, by Kansas Department of Health and Environment regulation, to ensure that money would be available if the Allen County Landfill had to be closed.
The trust was maintained at TeamBank Iola — Gilpin then was its president — before it closed and was purchased by Great Southern, Springfield, Mo.
Commissioners said they wanted a week or two to examine the proposal more closely before making a commitment.
Money in the trust is invested in low-risk securities, such as certificates of deposit and U.S. Treasury issues.
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