Group again seeks aid

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Bruce Bright of Star-Bright Aviation Tuesday morning asked Allen County commissioners to reconsider the company’s plea for financial assistance.
Star-Bright, a flight school, installed a dormitory and office at Allen County Airport for about $156,000. With the stalled economy, Star-Bright has hit a financial wall. A path for the company to grow and expand is for the county to assume the debt, Bright proposed earlier.
Commissioners de-clined then and did again yesterday, at least for the time being.
Bright sweetened the pot by noting that a certified aircraft mechanic was coming to the local airport when needed and might move there permanently. That, Bright said, might lead Eagle Med, an air ambulance operating from Chanute’s airport, or a similar service to move to Allen County Airport.
The county made overtures to Eagle Med after construction of a new hangar and had been given some indication that the helicopter ambulances might be stationed there. Absence of a mechanic apparently was a sticking point. But, that is pie in the sky until a commitment is made and just a talking point from the prospect of the county bailing out Star-Bright.
“I’d be interested only with an appraisal,” of Star-Bright’s holdings, said Commissioner Rob Francis, concerning a buyout.
Commissioner Dick Works said he’d be interested if financial assistance proved beneficial to the county.
The third commissioner, Gary McIntosh, said Resource Conservation and Development, an agency based in Chanute, indicated it had money to loan and Works mentioned Southeast Kansas Regional Planning as a loan source.
Bruce didn’t pounce on the thought of a loan, favoring an outright gift.
“I want to drop out debt through the winter so we can breathe a little easier,” he said.
Commissioners also have mentioned an arrangement with Allen County Community College, for certificate and degree programs, but seem to have been beaten to the punch by such offerings at Neosho Community College and its arrangement with White Star, a flight service at Chanute.
“I see benefits” from Star-Bright at Allen County Airport, Francis said, “but there are a lot of questions. A lot of Allen County residents don’t fly. It would make more sense if the college were involved.”
McIntosh encouraged more conversations with Eagle Med, suggesting that its shift of operations to Allen County would be a substantial step forward that might loosen county purse strings.