By Roger McKinney
NEOSHO, Mo. —
Members of the Joplin Civil Air Patrol squadron on Tuesday night proposed to the Neosho City Council that a new squadron be created at the Neosho airport.
The move comes after the patrol had come to an agreement with Joplin city officials that it could keep its meeting space at the Joplin Regional Airport, where the squadron has been since 1942.
The Civil Air Patrol is the civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force.
Bill Knotts and Ernie Trumbly with the Civil Air Patrol on Tuesday night proposed taking over the hangar at the Neosho airport and renovating it. Trumbly said part of the renovated hangar would feature classrooms for aerospace education classes for the CAP cadets.
“We want a full-fledged squadron here in Neosho,” Trumbly said.
Trumbly, aerospace education officer for the CAP, said Wednesday that the group had considered the Neosho airport location when it thought it might have to find a new home. He said the Joplin Civil Air Patrol would remain at the Joplin airport, but it doesn’t have the space for all its needs. He said the proposal should be seen as an expansion rather than a relocation.
The plan also includes preparing for display of the Cessna T-37 jet that was donated to the city years ago by the Air Force. Trumbly said it could be displayed across from the renovated hangar.
The patrol is working with Crowder College to determine if alternative energy methods could be used to power the building.
The CAP representatives said the project would rely on donations.
“It is going to be a long-term project,” Trumbly said. “The building is going to take a lot of work.”
He said restrooms would have to be installed, and the building also needs central air and heat.
Members of the City Council seemed interested, but they didn’t commit to anything except further discussion.
“We’ll be in touch,” said Mayor Richard Davidson.
Davidson said by email Wednesday that it’s a concern that the organization has no revenue apart from donations.
“The city isn’t in a position to start funding such a venture,” Davidson said. “Time will tell what happens.”
The council on Tuesday also authorized the city administration to pay a bill for $37,013.77 from Empire District Electric Co. that has been due since April 2004.
Finance Director Daphne Pevahouse said Empire had made an error in that month’s invoice, corrected it and sent it back to the city, but the invoice didn’t get paid. In 2006, an Empire representative met with then-Finance Director Cheryl Mosby about resolving the bill, but she left her employment with the city without it being paid.
Subsequent Finance Director Jane Obert instructed her staff to research the outstanding bill. City Manager Troy Royer said after the meeting that someone on the staff has been researching the bill for most of the past year.
“Hopefully, this is the last of old things that come back on us,” Royer said during the meeting.
The city underwent a financial crisis in 2009, when City Manager Jan Blase acknowledged that he had used a state loan fund to pay city bills and make payroll, resulting in a $1 million budget shortfall. Blase was fired in February 2010 and subsequently pleaded guilty to misdemeanor official misconduct.
“We had a time there that paying bills was not a priority,” Davidson said, referring to the crisis.
THE NEOSHO COUNCIL on Tuesday night directed City Manager Troy Royer to proceed with plans to demolish an 1890 house at 521 N. Wood St., known as the Bud Combs house. The city paid $118,654 for the house in 1999 with the idea of creating a tourist attraction. It has since fallen into disrepair and represents a potential liability.