Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - February 16, 1999, Alton, Illinois
Page B2 • Mon., Feb. 15,1999Area/Illinois
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A bus sits outside the terminal building at MidAmerica airport in Mascoutah. The airport has all the facilities of a major airport except it doesn’t have airlines or passengers.
$330 million airport is vacant
MASCOUTAH (AP) - It has ail the trappings of a major airport — baggage carousels, ticket counters, televisions broadcasting ONN headlines over and over again.
It just doesn’t have any airlines, or any passengers.
Nearly a year after opening for flights, the $330 million taxpayer-fiinded MidAmerica Airport is used only by planes flying into the Air Force base that shares its runways.
The airport’s boosters had predicted that it would be bustling with commercial airline service by now, and handle 1.1 million passengers next year. But the airlines cited by airport officials as their best prospects — American, Delta and Southwest — say they have no plans to fly here.
“You never know what tomorrow’s going to bring, so you don’t want to burn any bridges, but right now it’s just the best business decision,” said Delta spokeswoman Betty Moore.
All of which leaves local officials to insist that they didn’t make a big mistake.
“I’ve not had a nervous moment, one second of lost sleep or one iota of misconception about building this airport,” said St. Clair County Board Chairman John Bari-cevic. “It was absolutely the right thing to do.”
The airport has its beginnings in 1990 as planners considered the possibility of relocating Lambert-St Louis International Airport to the Illinois side of the Mississippi River. Lambert, home to Trans World Airlines and one of the nation’s busiest air-
It has all the trappings of a major airport. It just doesn’t have any airlines or passengers.
ports, is largely hemmed in by development north of St. Louis.
Politics scuttled that plan, but Illinois officials soon concluded that joint civilian-military use of Scott Air Force Base would help to make St. Louis’ often-overlooked Illinois suburbs a player in the regional economy.
Three years after St. Clair County adopted the project, construction began with county officials confidently predicting that service could start as soon as 1996. After a series of delays, the airport officially opened its runway in March.
Construction of the airport indeed brought plenty of money into the region — all but $30 million of MidAmerica’s cost was borne by the federal and state governments, with the county chipping in the rest.
County officials can tell local taxpayers that MidAmerica has lured more government spending, in the form of an Illinois Air National Guard unit that is moving from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, bringing 300 fiill-time and 1,000 part-time jobs and $100 million in construction spending.
But when it comes to attracting commercial airlines and the private-sector spending and jobs that go with them, experts say MidAmerica faces an uphill battle.
Washington Dulles Interna
tional Airport is the only other U.S. airport built from scratch as a secondary metropolitan facility in the last 30 years, and it succeeded largely because of restrictions on the number and length of flights from Reagan National Airport, according to New York-based independent airline analyst Robert Mann.
“Frankly, carriers are short of aircraft. They have more opportunity to make money with airplanes than they have the ability to go out and develop new markets,” he said.
Airlines know customers want the convenience of frequent flights and a wide range of destinations — something they can’t afford to do by spreading operations across two airports, Mann said.
County officials have said they expected to lose money on the airport for at least five years. It will take that long for airlines to gear up for service at the new field, airport director Rick Hargrove said.
But some suspect it will be much longer.
Joe Behnken, a St. Clair County councilman who has been highly critical of the county’s efforts to lure an airline to MidAmerica, says the Public Building Commission, which oversees the airport, is incompetent.
“Those folks know nothing about the management and running of any business, much
less an airport,” he said.
Baricevic dismissed Behn-ken’s criticisms as political. Behnken is a Republican; Baricevic is his Democratic arch-rival.
Just as they have since con struction began, county officials continue to predict major tenant in the coming year. But Hargrove and Baricevic also say that no deals are imminent. Also, Lambert recently won approval for the $2.6 billion addition of a sec ond runway.
Other new airports have found ways to succeed. When Northwest Arkansas Regional Airport in Bentonville, Ark. opened in November at a cost of $109 million, airlines had already signed up to fly there But that airport had the backing of three influential corporations — Wal-Mart Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt Transportation — which pledged their business to airlines using the field, said spokesman Scott Van Lan ingham.
So far, no businesses have made such a pledge to MidA merica.
Meanwhile, the airport stays open at least 12 hours a day staffed by 27 workers — including a filii fire crew and maintenance staff.
And — to the fiirther aggra vation of critics — MidAmeri ca is already spending money on upgrades.
Last year, the county approved requesting $2.5 mil lion for improvements that include higher runway lights and a fence to keep deer off the runway.
Committee OKs Route 66 Festival funding
Volunteering for Habitat is a chance to learn
By REBECCA HOPKINS
Telegraph staff writer
ALTON — As with any service organization, volunteers are always needed. Working for Habitat for Humanity gives each volunteer the opportunity to give as well as receive. Executive Director. Brad Martens calls volunteering with Habitat a chance to learn or expand ones knowledge of home improvement skills.
By joining one of the volunteer committees and applying energy to described needs, helpers can develop a new skill, meet people with similar interests and share talent.
The Construction Committee: Organizes each job site including supervision, ordering materials, acquiring tools, developing budgets and time schedules, identifying subcontractors and working with volunteers.
The Family Selection Committee: Follows selection criteria in the process of screening, interviewing and recommending applicants for approval as Habitat homeowners.
The Family Support Committee: Develops partnerships
with homeowner families by working with them to meet their individual needs. Each committee member becomes an advocate of a family to help them make the transition to home ownership.
The Fund Raising Committee: Members work on the plan for obtaining funds for the affiliate through special events, mailings, grant writing and solicitation of churches, businesses, civic groups and individuals.
The Law Committee: Attorneys are need to provide families with pro-bono legal counsel and support during home qualification and acquisition.
The Public Relations Committee: Informs the public about Habitat for Humanity and the work of the affiliates.
The Site Selection and Development Committee: Identifies neighborhoods and communities to work with and suitable sites for future projects. Responsibilities include working with city offices, neighborhood association and property owners.
Volunteer Coordination Committee: Coordinates the efforts of all volunteers.
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the foundation of the home.
To partner with Habitat, a family must be living in substandard housing at the time of the application. Poor plumbing, heating or wiring, a leaking roof, overcrowded conditions, or unsafe or unsanitary living conditions qualify as substandard. The family must also be able to repay the mortgage which is a no-interest loan of 15 to 25 years. Finally, families must be willing to partner with
Habitat’s program. This includes completing 400 hours of sweat equity, making monthly house payments, maintaining their homes and participating in the Family Support Program.
As with most volunteer programs, Piasa Area Habitat for Humanity is always looking for willing hands to help with the mission. Volunteers for Habitat can work in a variety of ways to help build communities. To offer your help, call Brad Martens at 462-8933.
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RIS also services several area nursing home facilities through radio and transmitter devices.
“We have about 4,500 people with radios and others who receive the transmission in nursing homes,” Kasperek said. “We have about six nursing homes in The Telegraph area who receive transmissions.”
RIS serves Madison, Calhoun, Macoupin, Greene and Jersey counties.
United Way Partnership
Inc. Binding provides about $7,500 a year.
"AU the Binding helps,” Kasperek said. “We co-mingle the United Way funds with ftmds from Greater United Way of St Louis and state funds.”
Those interested in supporting the program or any of the 90 programs funded by the United Way Partnership should send their gills to the United Way Partnership, P.O. Box 70, Alton, IL 62002, or call 462-1234, ext 15.
By STEVE WHITWORTH
Telegraph staff writer
EDWARDSVILLE - A committee of the City Council has approved $5,000 in funding each for this year’s Route 66 Festival, Harvest Homefest and Land of Goshen Community Market.
The Administrative and Community Services Committee voted Wednesday in favor of recommendations by the city’s Tourism Committee to fund the events.
Under city guidelines, each event will receive 50 percent of the Binding, or $2,500, beforehand. The second half of the allocation will be paid 30 days after the event, contingent on a review of the event’s financial success.
The initial payments will be made after May I, the beginning of the city’s next fiscal year, except in the case of the Route 66 Festival.
Officials representing that festival requested that it receive the initial $2,500 in April, 60 days before the event scheduled for June 12-13. They said the lead time was necessary to book entertainment for the event.
Also Wednesday, both the Finance Committee and the Administrative and Community Services Committee approved an ordinance authorizing the execution and delivery of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement for Collateralized Single-Family Mortgage Revenue Bonds,
The ordinance would allow Edwardsville to participate in a program with more than 20 other cities in Illinois. The program provides a total of $130 million in low-interest loans to first-time home buyers who buy existing homes or build new ones in those cities.
Alderman Richard Walker, 4th Ward, chairman of the
Finance Committee, said the full council needs to approve or reject the agreement in its entirety at its meeting Tuesday night If the council approves the ordinance, $3 million will be available to home buyers in Edwardsville during the first round of the program. The bonds are being issued by Gates Capital Corp. of Chica
go. The exact rate for the bonds won’t be known until the deal closes on March 4.
The money should be available to applicants beginning on March 5, Walker said. He said negotiations were continuing to determine which local banks would participate in the program. The loans will be obtained through the local banks.
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CONSOLIDATED PRIMARY ELECTION MADISON COUNTY. ILLINOIS FEBRUARY 23, 1999
CITY OF WOOD RIVER
4 YEAR TERM
(Vote for TWO)
JUDY BECKHAM ......................
FRED E. UFERT.......................
END OF BALLOT