Advisory panels assist commission, residents
|An aircraft is towed out of the hanger at the Carbon County Airport in preparation for a flight. The Airport Advisory Board studies and makes recommendations on improvements and operations at the facility. The airport has the third longest runway in the state.|
Longtime residents find it difficult to imagine Carbon County without the airport or fairgrounds.
In addition, the county has a number of lodging properties that generate not only tax revenues, but jobs for the local economy.
The county also battles noxious weeds that can clog an ecosystem and cause problems for homeowners and residents who practice agriculture in the area.
The airport, motels, fairgrounds and noxious weeds are indirectly related because Carbon County has boards to deal with issues in the areas. The purposes of the boards are diverse, yet there is one overriding factor - the panels serve the public.
The airport has been an important part of Carbon County since fairly early in the 20th century.
Today the airport handles private aircraft as well as corporate jets and military flybys on occasion.
The airport is integral to search and rescue efforts in southeastern Utah. The facility has also served as a fire base for helicopters and fixed winged aircraft that battle wildland blazes in the southeastern region of the state.
In addition, the airport serves as a shipping/postal departure and arrival point for the mail and packages as well as a base for a transportation for tourism and for business.
In recent years a number of expansion projects have taken place including improving and adding taxiways and lengthening runways.
Last year, several individuals built a new hangar at the airport for clients to rent space and store private aircraft.
Decisions involving the airport ultimately fall under the domain of the Carbon County Commission. But there are also citizens serving on the airport advisory board who help with recommendations on the facility.
The board has the authority to forward recommendations on the needs and requirements of the airport and facilities to the commission. The panel studies county, state and federal budgetary matters, appraises development that is desirable for the airport and looks at overall plans for the facility.
The board is comprised of six citizens appointed by the commission. Three people serve four-year terms and three occupytwo-year positions. One county commissioner sits on the board. Members receive no compensation for serving on the panel.
Board members include Commissioner Bill Krompel, Dennis Willis, Donald Wilson, Colby Guest, airport manager Mark Francis, David Cassidy and Donna Cartwright. The panel meets once a month.
Another important board is part of the Carbon County Travel Bureau. The board's main purpose is to disperse money from the transient room tax fund that comes from assessments levied under the law from those who pay for lodging in the county. This tax and fund is less well known to residents of the county than the food tax, because it is generally paid by those from out of town, unlike the tax on meals which is paid by anyone in the county who eats outside their home in a restaurant.
This tax system often generates almost as much money as the restaurant tax. In 2002 it had it's best year in terms of revenue at $157,372 for the year. Last year was the second best year since the tax was enacted in 1996 at $143,429. The money can be applied for by government agencies in a very similar manner to what happens with the restaurant tax. All recommendations of this board for fund requests must be approved by the county commission.
The present board consists of 10 members. The law says at least one each must come from the local lodging industry, the restaurant industry, recreational facilities, convention facilities, museums, cultural attractions or other tourism related industries. Some members can also be at large, but must be residents of the county.
Board members for 2005 include Kathy Hanna Smith, Vena Tryon, Nick Tatton, Steve Burge, Pam Miller, Ken Larson, Jim Marrs, Dawn Bentley, and Silvia Fassio. There presently is one open spot on the board because a new by-way coordinator for the energy loop had not been hired for the county at the time this article was composed.
The board serves with no compensation and meets quarterly on a regular basis, but also has special meetings. The members of the board serve for two year terms and may not serve more than four terms total.
Another important board in county government is the Fairgrounds Board. As another advisory board to the county commission, this board looks after the needs of the fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds Board meets the second Monday of each month.
Their duties include master planning for the fairgrounds, coordinating schedules of the of use of the facilities, and budget formation and input. The board also deals with various kinds of problems that arise at the fairgrounds, working with the county commission to solve them.
The board has one ex offiicio commissioner on it (presently Bill Krompel) and a joint appointment from the Chamber of Commerce/Travel Bureau who has a one year term (Kathy Hanna Smith). The board can also have up to 10 citizens from the county on the board. They serve with no compensation.
Board members presently include Denise Seevers, Patti Pappas, Scott Jensen, Russ Jensen and Kevin Axelgard.
The final board that serves the county is the Weed Board. Some citizens wonder about this group, questioning why the county needs a group of people that meet about something so mundane as weeds.
In actuality, noxious weeds are a major problem all over the world, because they force out and often kill natural vegetation, invade agricultural operations, and can poison both domestic and wild animals. The state of Utah has a Noxious Weed Act to coordinate efforts of the various agencies to get rid or control weeds on their list. The act requires counties to have a board or some other kind of supervision over weed programs in their boundaries.
The Carbon County Weed Board works to determine which weeds pose the largest problems to the counties well being. Their main purpose is to be an advisory board to the county commission on the changing situation from year to year and to help with public information on the weed problems in the county.
The board works with the state in identifying problems that may come from outside sources, because vegetation respects no geographical or social boundaries. The board is presently working toward finding many natural means of controls for weed problems, rather than just spraying them. Controls can include other species of plants or various types of insects that will destroy the noxious weeds while leaving other plants unharmed.
The board, along with the county supervisor over weed control, Mike Johnson, also work to provide methods of control to private citizens. The county offers advise on chemicals that can be used as well the rental of sprayers to control not only weeds but also insects and other pests.
The board consists of at least three members with one commissioner sitting on the board as an ex officio member (presently Mike Milovich). Of the board two members must be farmers or ranchers. There is no compensation for serving on this board and all members serve four year terms.
Present members include Carl Bott, George Cook, Todd Farish, Lowell Gray, Todd Hamilton, George Harmond, Tom Mathews and Pat McGann.
Editors note: The article is the fourth in a series of four news stories discussing the various boards and committees that operate within Carbon County government.