Flight school seeks funding

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners were asked Tuesday for financial assistance for Star-Bright Aviation, which operates a flight school at Allen County Airport.
Bruce Bright said the company borrowed money from a bank that was restructured when the economic downturn struck the nation and that Star-Bright had run into a fiscal wall.
“We’re here to ask for some help,” Star-Bright’s Rob Jordan said.
“How much?” Chairman Dick Works asked.
For $200,000, the county could assume ownership of a dormitory and an office Star-Bright built at the airport, Jordan said.
Bill King, director of Public Works, said the county and Star-Bright have a short history. Last year, the county and Star-Bright struck a deal to repair and improve a hangar, he said.
Jordan said the company, founded in January 2008, had become an FAA 141 flight school, which gives it more latitude to attract and train student pilots. He said more than 30 students had completed 50-plus ratings. They have come from several states, as well as Finland and Canada.
Star-Bright is in the process of completing paperwork so it may accept students financed by the GI Bill and wants to develop, with Allen County Community College, two-year degree and certificate programs. When coordination with ACCC is in place, students could transfer hours earned here to a four-year program.
“We have about half (physically and financially) what we need to become a comprehensive school,” Jordan said. “We also need to promote ourselves more,” which takes addition cash.
Star-Bright is certified to provide freight service and wants to add charter passenger service.
“We’re not going anywhere but we do need a little breathing room until the economy starts to turn around,” Jordan said.
King defended the aviation company. “Star-Bright is good for the airport and I’d hate to see them go under,” he said. “We’ll crunch the numbers and see what we can do.”
“Also, check the loans and the balance sheet,” said Alan Weber, county counselor.

THRIVE ALLEN County is seeking federal stimulus money to help purchase and install an information kiosk on the courthouse lawn.
The kiosk, a replica of one maintained for years near the courthouse by the National Weather Bureau to give weather forecasts, would provide information from governmental and non-profit groups, including local and health-related events. David Toland, Thrive executive director, said the kiosk would be easily visible from Madison Avenue. Information would flow over an LED screen three feet 10 inches by three feet six inches.
Toland sought a letter of endorsement and permission to place the kiosk on courthouse lawn. He noted Iola had agreed to help install the enhanced billboard and provide electricity for its operation. Commissioners wondered about long-term maintenance, but otherwise found favor with the idea.
Toland said cost was expected to be about $24,500 and that $16,000 was being sought in federal stimulus funding.
“We see it as a gift to the public,” Toland said.
The original kiosk was erected in 1909 and remained in downtown Iola until about 1960.

CHUCK RICHEY, who looks after the old courthouse clock positioned on the south side of the courthouse lawn, said parts for its chiming mechanism should be here soon.
“The stuff has been ordered and should be in Iola by Nov. 1,” Richey said. “Then, you’ll be able to hear the clock chime again.”
The clock was in the tower of the old courthouse that was razed in the late 1950s with completion of the present structure.