Flight instructor Tyler Naramore, who is the Salem Airport Advisory Committee secretary, presented his case to the board of aldermen Monday night for approval of a bid funding the installation of new lights at the airport.

Naramore pointed out that the previously acquired grant funds are tied up with an airport project, and that if the city waits to fix the lights until that hangar project progresses, the lights would be left unfixed for at least a couple years more. He emphasized it is important for safety purposes that lights be fixed as soon as possible.

See related article here

Naramore said that director of public works Mark Nash, Chris Holliday (a pilot who utilizes the airport) and himself worked together to solicit bids on behalf of the city.

“The bid that we liked, and we came up with a few of them, but the one we felt comfortable with, was with McNew Electric in Licking for $14,700,” said Naramore. According to Naramore, McNew’s bid would include them testing the integrity of the wiring and lights.

“They just want to get us going,” he said. “Looking at McNew, we feel like they are going to do a really good job. They’ve also worked at the Viche Airport recently on their lighting systems.”

Naramore said that he’s seen the product of their work first hand, having flown to that airport at night.

“Could you just talk to the safety, what it means to the runway and the airport in general?” West Ward Alderman Kevin James asked.

“In 2018 we had intermittent lights, and so we’d expect them to be working,” said Naramore. “Well, they wouldn’t be working, so we’d have to go somewhere else.

“To attempt to land without lights is extremely dangerous, a massive liability to the city.”

Nash recommended that the board accept McNew’s bid. Nash thanked Naramore and Holliday for the time and energy they put in to acquire these bids.

“They’ve done a lot legwork on this, they’ve been a huge help,” he said.

The board voted 3-0 to accept Nash’s recommendation, with East Ward Alderwoman Kim Steelman absent. According to Nash, McNew is scheduled to begin work on the lights April 12.

Also at the meeting:

• City Administrator Ray Walden said the city received word the LWCF grant application for development of the soccer fields and TAP grant application for sidewalk and streetlight improvements along fourth street have been funded.

However, according to Walden, they are waiting for additional information regarding the projects and will share that information when it’s available.

Walden then spoke briefly about utility bills.

“Utility bills were mailed today,” he said. “For usage from Dec. 10, 2020 through Jan. 9 2021. Autodrafts will be processed April 12, 2021. Anyone that has questions about their bill or has not received their bill by Friday, April 9 is asked to contact the utility office at (573) 729-4117.”

Walden also mentioned that someone has been spoofing the City Utility number (that’s making the caller ID appear that it’s coming from the utility office), the callers were saying they were from City Utilities and asking for social security number information.

“We don’t do that,” said Walden. “So, our police department posted an advisory that we share on our Facebook page as well. Please disregard those calls.”

See more information on the scam calls

After concluding his report, Walden presented an opportunity for the board to ask questions.

“This is in regards to the utility bills which we’re switching from a six-week to a four-week period, and to your response to the paper last week,” West Ward Alderman Greg Parker said. “That you were waiting for the board to make a decision on the exact dates on how many days were in the utility bill. I thought that the meters were kind of fixed and the bills should have went out on time. I’m just kind of curious why they were delayed, because we discussed this on the 17th of March. That would have kind of left plenty of time for billing to go out on their normal dates.”

Walden responded, ”They were processed the second (April 2). With the holiday weekend, we stuffed them when we could and took them to the post office today. It’s our understanding we’re on the schedule that we understood you all wanted.”

“I’m just curious,” said Parker. “I’m just trying to figure out what the holdup was.”

Walden answered, “The last bills went out the first part of March, so we’re about 30 days from the last bill,” he said. “We’re trying to stay on that cadence of one bill a month,” he said. “Unless the board tells us differently, the next bill will go out the first part of May and will be for Jan. 10 through whatever 30 days from that is.”

The board thanked Walden for his explanation. “It’s good to get that discussion out there,” said James.

East Ward Alderman candidate Kenny Nash, who was attending the meeting as a member of the public, cut in.

“Can I ask a question?” he said.

“After the meeting, Kenny,” said Mayor Brad Nash. “Since you’re not on the agenda, we’ll answer those questions after the meeting, okay.”

Kenny went on to say that no matter how many times he calls the city, he never seems to be able to get anyone to answer.

“What phone number do you want people to call?” he asked.

The mayor reiterated that Nash would need to ask the question after the meeting. While the meeting continued, Nash stood up and walked to where Mark Nash was seated and attempted to voice the question directly to the public works director. “Kenny, would you mind having a seat, please, so we can conduct our meeting?” the mayor asked.

The alderman candidate returned to his seat.

• The board turned their attention back to Jeff Meadows of Archer-Elgin who was presenting an update on various city works projects that his firm has been working on for the city.

• Parks and Recreation Director Melissa DuBois presented bids for two separate pieces of equipment, a new Kubota tractor to replace three worn out tractors that are being traded in to offset the cost and a new Polaris Ranger UTV. The Parks and Recreation voted at their last meeting to recommend that the Board of Aldermen approve these bids. The board voted 3-0 to accept the purchase of the tractor. The purchase of the UTV was declined due to lack of motion.

See more on this story in the April 13 edition of The Salem News.