College rejects Star-Bright offer

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Marla Bright told Allen County commissioners Tuesday a collaborative program between Star-Bright Aviation and Allen County Community College won’t occur. The program was proposed by commissioners after they declined to assume an $156,000 debt the company incurred placing a dormitory and office at Allen County Airport.
Star-Bright has a flight school at the airport and, faced with financial woes, last month asked county commissioners to buy out the debt. Commissioners turned them down, instead suggesting Star-Bright explore certificate and degree programs with ACCC, which they theorized might lead to financial assistance. Bright said the college declined support.
“That’s where we are and we’re still positive,” she added.
A flight school operating at the airport in Chanute already has an agreement with Neosho County Community College that leads to certificates and degrees for students. Commissioner Gary McIntosh, a former ACCC trustee, said community colleges in southeast Kansas refrain from offering competing programs, other than those in basic educational disciplines, so he was not surprised at the outcome of Star-Bright’s discussions with ACCC. The Board of Regents, the state regulatory body for community colleges, also discourages duplicate programs at adjacent colleges.
McIntosh and Dick Works gave no indication if they might change their minds about a bailout. Commissioner Rob Francis was absent from the meeting.

ANGELA MURPHY, 911 dispatch director, told commissioners she checked on a wider range of bids for several components of remodeling new dispatch quarters at 410 N. State St. and found no significant differences in costs. Last week, she told commissioners about $197,000 in county funds would be required to prepare the dispatch center, plus another $143,000 in grant money for telephone and technical upgrades. Commissioners at that point delayed a portion of the work to shift expenditure of $30,000 to 2010. Murphy said additional costs might be put off until the new budget year.
She has advertised for two additional dispatchers.
Addressing perceived concerns, Works and McIntosh said the county would maintain an ambulance and full-time crew in Humboldt, regardless of what was done in Iola.
Jason Nelson, Emergency Medical Services director, said he visited with Humboldt councilmen about remodeling and expanding living quarters for the ambulance crew there. Expansion will be possible when Humboldt moves city hall employees to the Emprise Bank building.
Sam Konkel, a Sedgwick County firefighter and member of the Kansas Air National Guard’s Civil Support Team, told commissioners he was in Iola Tuesday to work with Nelson on plans for a hazardous materials and weapons of mass destruction seminar scheduled for early November.