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October 17, 2002

Open Letter to the Board of Supervisors,

I am dismayed by recent actions of the EDC Board of Supervisors in seeking to evict the current FBO (Fixed Base Operator) from Georgetown Airport. The ugly, backroom politics that booted our FBO from his previous commercial hangar now returns for the coup de grace.

I would expect, if there are policy or contract violations, the issues could be aired in a public hearing. The operation of our airport, the safety of pilots using the airport, the continued services to aircraft owners who pay leases or tie down fees are all issues at stake. Let all these stakeholders have a voice.

The airport at Georgetown was an unknown, non-destination before Skyways Flying Service, operated by Steve and Trish Cimmarusti, took on the FBO position. With it they shouldered leadership for developing an EAA Chapter and an airport support group, provided an aircraft repair and inspection service as well as a flight school. The airport hosts annual events that the whole Divide supports: Airport Appreciation Day (where people fly for 5c/pound), Young Eagles Rallies, the Gathering of Taildraggers and Swine Tasting, the Moonlight Fly-in, and the Chili Cook-off. EAA (Experimental Aircraft Assoc.) Chapter 1074 was born out of the enthusiasm and leadership of the Cimmarustis, and from that sprang an Explorer Scout Post that brought aviation exploration to Divide youth. Another result of their inspiration has been the opportunity for 7-17 year olds to experience their first flight through the Young Eagles Program. Over 250 kids have tasted the love of aviation from volunteer pilots, many of whom were taught here by Steve.

I have had the chance to fly into several small, general aviation airports around the state, and most don't have a friendly, competent voice answering the unicom (radio) with wind and runway advisories. It has always struck me what a gem Georgetown's Airport is, both for its beauty and unique facilities, and, in largest part, for the friendly welcome aviators receive from our FBO.

It seems contradictory for our county, which spouts rhetoric about being business friendly and encouraging economic growth, to be ousting a tenant who is responsible for stimulating so much involvement, increasing county revenues and promoting community interest in aviation. Due to the Cimmarustis' energy and commitment, there is a much broader base of tax and fee-paying constituents on the airport, and dollars flying into the county to be spent here.

I challenge the County Board of Supervisors to take on the representation of this involved base of constituents, and build on the success of our FBO. Extend his contract. Work out the problems in an open, fair forum with public input. And please, get on with the long-promised projects such as sealant on the runway, and a cardlock installed to access the gas pump.


Lynn Schardt, Garden Valley

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