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May 16, 2022

Edgar Co. Airport exaggerates data on another $1.11 million grant application –

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On July 10, 2015

Paris, IL. (ECWd) –
After the last grant went down in a flaming pile of you know what due to the outrageous lies and exaggerations contained within it (with no one held accountable), the Edgar County Airport has once again submitted a new grant application for even more of your hard-earned tax dollars.
Read the previous article here, where the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, halted all work on the grant last year because of “inconsistencies” in the application.
Noteworthy “justifications” for this new grant:
1) “High demand” by airport users for additional fuel capacity. Fuel sales documents don’t support that claim.
2) “Resident aircraft 16”, FOIA documents prove otherwise.
3) Used letter of 11/28/2012 in justifications declaring 27 aircraft, don’t know why…
4) Hanson Engineering photo shows two aircraft rarely at the airport in the fueling area. Fuel sales records that we have do not show a large Jet A fuel sale in the past year….Hanson has provided only one picture with a tail number on it. No documents supporting the justification of transient user usage and need. Under FOIA request, county denied any knowledge of these aircraft and later provided a picture…showing airport manager present.

Here is the break-down of what you will pay for this playground should it get approved:

Edgar County Residents: $72,000.00
Illinois Residents:  $40,000.00
U.S. residents:  $998,325.00
Total:  $1,110,325.00
How many airplanes are located at this airport? “FIVE“, or 10 depending on how you calculate it (according to Edgar County’s own FOIA responses). That is $222,000.00 per airplane for something this county does not need at this time. Even if we stated 10 aircraft to play it safe, it would still be $111,000.00 per aircraft.
Compare this figure with those of the Dec 11, 2014 State of Washington Airport Investment Study of Funding that lists funding per aircraft. There is a striking difference. Pay attention to the far-right column.
WDOT-Study
Remember, nothing out there is needed – however, a credit card reader for the fuel station is wanted, and would be beneficial – and that can be purchased for around $25k.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s report, the average number of airplanes per the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS) is 30.  The minimum requirement to maintain NPIAS funding is 10 based, flight-worthy aircraft.

 Problems with the new grant application:

Page 6 states that “there is a high demand by airport users for additional fuel capacity at the airport“. That is impossible seeing as they would need to place a definition on “demand” as opposed to “want”. There is no demand at all for additional fuel capacity, and as a matter of public record there is too much fuel and they do not know what to do to keep it from going bad. They are even offering this fuel at below cost, around $1.00 per gallon below surrounding airports, in order to get rid of the currently stored fuel before it goes bad. The airport’s last purchase of Jet-A and/or AV-Gas fuel was in August of 2014. Tell me again where this so-called demand for more fuel is coming from.

Pages 14 thru 17 include inaccurate data, in particular, the data reflecting the number of aircraft (page 16). That number was inaccurate at the time of the inspection and for some reason keeps getting included in grant applications.

Projected Revenue – In their projected revenue, they state a figure of over $57,000 per year in fuel sales (page 6 of the application). It seams like an impossible feat, considering the total fuel sales from Oct 1, 2014 thru May 1, 2015 was only $6791.66 of 100LL and $1440.35 of Jet-A, for a grand total of $8232.01 – a FAR cry from the projected $57,000.00.

Even if the fuel sales were to double, it would not come near the projected income – to do that it would take a 700% increase in sales.

Most Recent Document Request:

Number of Aircraft:

This is a major point of alleged inaccuracy:

The County is claiming there are 16 aircraft at the airport, however, there are only 15 hangars:

 -1 duplicate listing

 -1  expired contract listing for crashed airplane (#3) (decommissioned) (article on this aircraft here)

 -2 RSB non-flying aircraft

 -10 leases that were in effect for less than 6 months before submitting the grant application based on these docs

There are 2 leases where the tail numbers of the aircraft are not registered to the leaseholders – one registered to a business and one registered to someone from Oklahoma.

 -?   Leased hangers with non flying aircraft – unknown at this time

The bottom line here is, these numbers are highly questionable based on the past actions and inaccurate statements of this facility’s management.

Additionally, there was only one aircraft at the Edgar County Airport for the year of 2014 in compliance with all regulations imposed by the County Board/Edgar County Airport Advisory Board and a February 2015 FOIA showed only one aircraft owner with proper insurance as mandated by the County. Grant assurances require equal and fair treatment for all – anything less violates those grant assurances.

There are 2 experimental aircraft: 1 Amateur Built (Experimental) (page 15), and 1 Experimental (page 23)

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The “Guest Book” of visitors (download here):
A quick review of the guest book reveals the following:

  • There were only 6 pages of guest book signatures, some were illegible.
  • Beginning from 10/18/2012 Thru 6/27/2015 ….32 months
  • There were only 102 guests at the airport over 32 months or about 3.1875 guests per month as an average: less than one a week.
  • In 2012 there were 4 guests..3 months/4= 1.33 guests per month, less than one a week.
  • In 2013 there were 35 guests…12 months/35= 2.91 guests per month, less than one a week.
  • In 2014 there were 49 guests…12 months/49= 4.08 guests per month, about one airplane a week.
  • In 2015 there were 14 guests…6 months/14= 2.33 guests per month, less than one a week.

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Some of the continuing Airport issues:

1) New project for $1,110,325 is fraudulent: there are not 16 or 15 airplanes at the airport because: a) FOIA request shows only 5 insurance documents and subsequently only 5 possible aircraft for the entire year of 2014 plus several months. Even these 5 aircraft/owners were not in compliance with the insurance required by the airport and should have been evicted from the airport for non-compliance.
2) The airport is not entitled to the project, its funds or its benefits, because, this is once again fraud.
3) Earlier FOIA requests revealed 12 hanger leases when 15 hangers are in use. Who is undocumented and not paying rent? Recent FOIA request showed leases for non-flyable aircraft that cannot be used for justification.
4) 5 airplanes in residency in 2014, flying, and with insurance documents falls well below the 16 claimed on the grant application and well below the 10 required to enter into the NPIAS funding program. The airport should be removed from this program.
5) The County’s portion of his project is -+ $72,000.00….the State’s portion is -+ $40,000.00 the feds make up the rest. If last year’s project had been allowed to proceed….the county would have been -+$60,000.00 more in debt and ended the year with an increase in the borrowed money because of the airport and in a greater deficit.
That deficit would have been compounded were it not for the forced recoupment of funds resulting from the sale of the Mass Transit operation and the $150,000.00 windfall from that sale and the monies that were returned to the county through the Edgar County Watchdog’s efforts. There is still around $75,000 still owed to the county from that operation when they illegally sold the property.
6) The County’s -+$72,000.00 contribution (your tax money) is in addition to the -+$100-150K or so the county commits to the airports operation each year (less lease incomes and fuel sales).
7) Jerry Griffin continues as a “Airport Manager’ even though he lied repeatedly on is application. Not because the board members are stupid, but because his purpose is to lie about airport project needs. Case in point: Hanson Engineering justified more paved surfaces with pictures of transient aircraft. FOIA request responses indicated the County had absolutely no knowledge of this aircraft. When questioned further, because these appeared to be old pictures, the county had a different response. Some pictures were provided, with what appeared to be of the airport manager near these aircraft. Hiding information from the taxpayers. Lies.
8) The aircraft crash (2014) on the runway that no one knows anything about – still not made public. Nobody can say who was piloting the aircraft, why it crashed, when it crashed, who was the passenger, who was the pilot, or how it got towed/hauled from the runway into the hangar. Word leaked out that there was in fact a crashed aircraft, and it was verified that one did crash, but no other information was made available. We still believe Jerry was in that aircraft. We now know that aircraft was decommissioned earlier this year (proof)(article on this is here).
9) Patrick (and others) never provided insurance documents….Jerry Griffin “verified” his insurance…therefore no documents proving aircraft existence, contrary to the lease agreements and statements thereon. Page 68 of the board minutes states that a certificate of insurance must be “presented” annually to the County and the County must be named additionally insured. This County won’t even enforce its own lease agreements – at least for this individual. We believe he is in violation of his lease agreement.
Patrick could also be violating paragraph 15 of his lease, which states that no commercial business will be allowed without prior approval. According to the FAA, the airplane listed on his lease agreement is in the name of a corporation.
10) Fuel records indicate not enough fuel sales to warrant anything.
11) Continued association with the Booster Club….which was dissolved by the state more than 25 years ago.
12) The Airport still has not come clean on why they started refusing cash payments for fuel purchases a few years ago (after an audit pointed out discrepancies).
Finally, to wrap things up, this application is not factually correct, uses old data, exaggerates projected income beyond anything even remotely possible, claims aircraft either non-flyable or not resident there anymore for the grant justification, and attempts to provide funding for something that is not needed, and will never be needed in the foreseeable future.
AirportPix

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11 Comments
  • Rory
    Posted at 11:55h, 10 July

    As usual in Edgar County: A big boon for a handful – at the expense of everyone. Do the statutes allow for the sale of the airport? Sell it and get out from under this boondoggle and money pit. Let the few who “benefit” from it , pay for it…period. And, my apologies to the good folks who use it and gain nothing from it but enjoyment or some logistical support to their businesses. As usual, a few cast a pall over the entire thing.

    • Donna
      Posted at 23:03h, 13 July

      Indeed. A perk for a few that the rest of us pay for.

  • CommonSenseSeeker
    Posted at 12:08h, 10 July

    why is the county expending so much time & energy (and money) for crazy stupid efforts on a crazy stupid “airport” when the beautiful and historic courthouse — utilized by **SO** many more citizens than the airport — is approaching the point of falling-in on itself?

  • Robert O. Bogue
    Posted at 00:06h, 11 July

    The Beginning.
    Please allow me to begin my comments by providing the names of those presently serving on the Edgar County Board. District 1, Ben H. Jenness; District 2, Jeff Voigt; District 3, Andy Patrick; District 4 Karl Farnham Jr; District 5, Dan Bruner; District 6, Alan Zuber; and District 7, Mike Heltsley.
    Board members Heltsley, Voigt and Farnham also serve on the “airport committee” with non-board member and appointee Jerry Griffin functioning as the “Airport Administrator”.
    The county board members, as have been noted above, are the people most responsible for the events at the airport, the hiring and firing, the fraud, the finances of the county and just about everything else that has been mentioned in the afore mentioned article(s).
    If you have not taken an opportunity to visit with your District board member on these issues, then please do so for the benefit of the county. They may also be contacted via the counties web page: http://edgarcountyillinois.com/county-board/ then by clicking on the “Contact” tab near the top of the page and then by selecting August Griffin-Edgar County Clerk & Recorder. I believe Mr. August Griffin will forward your message to the appropriate board member.
    The Economics.
    Edgar County presently carries hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt; all of which can easily be verified by contacting our county treasurer, Mr. Wiseman.
    As noted in this article in this past fiscal year the Edgar County Watchdogs caused the return of something like $150K to the county from the sale of the Mass Transit System. Without that financial shot in the arm the county was well on its way to ending the year in the red and of course, in adding to the backlog of unpaid debt and borrowed monies.
    In this particular fiscal year, there would also have been the added expenditure of about $60K for an un-needed, unwarranted and fraudulent airport project that was eventually halted by the FAA. That county money was not spent.
    If these two events had played out differently, a year end deficit of nearly $210,000.00 may have occurred here in our county.
    Since then, there have been some changes. In the present fiscal year, the county has increased a number of its “service fees” in hopes of increasing overall revenue. Having said that, its highly unlikely: no it’s impossible for these fee increases to approach the level of the nearly $150,000.00 returned to the county by the Edgar County Watchdogs last year in addition to the $72,000.00 of borrowed monies required by the newest fraudulent project. We simply do not have another Mass Transit System to sell in which to bail ourselves out.
    In a real and certain way; these projects should be brought to an end because of their fraud, lies, deceptions and criminal acts as outlined in this article. These projects cannot be justified given the present facts and because this project is also one this county cannot afford.
    The undeniable facts are, this county cannot adopt a deficit spending habit of $200,000.00 each year without the need to raise taxes. Raising taxes is the inevitable result of deficit spending. It seems, we are on a deficit spending path for this year.
    The work.
    John Kraft and Kirk Allen have done an excellent job in presenting a comprehensive outline of the problems at the Edgar County Airport and in providing the many reasons why this project(s) should not be allowed to go forward. It should not. Our Airport Administrator should have been fired long ago and needs dismissed immediately.
    Board members need reminded of their responsibility to work for all of the counties taxpayers and not just for a few aircraft owners that benefit directly from the construction process itself. Please contact them.
    Those that firebombed the airplanes at our airport need held accountable. Clearly they were connected in some way with the airport’s operation and locals, given the messages left upon them. Thanks for listening, Rob.

  • nellie
    Posted at 17:43h, 11 July

    Just asking in reality how many yards of concrete is this whole thing about

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 17:47h, 11 July

      I didn’t mention any concrete.

  • B Travers
    Posted at 08:43h, 14 July

    Why didn’t you guys monitor the new high school construction like you have been the airport. The airport is small potatoes compared to the money that was misspent on that boondoggle on the north side of town. You guys worry about all this small stuff and let a project worth millions and millions go unchecked. You dropped the ball big time.

    • jmkraft
      Posted at 09:13h, 14 July

      We generally go to where we receive valid and verifiable complaints. If you have any valid, verifiable complaints about the new high school construction, we will be glad to look at it. You can contact us thru any means, some are listed here: http://3.133.133.226/about-us/

  • tc
    Posted at 17:49h, 16 July

    You didn’t mention that if the project gets stopped, which is what you guys are trying to do, the county will be on the hook for the engineering fees for the work that has already been done with the survey. These costs would usually be taken care of with the government grant, but if the project doesn’t go then the county is responsible to pay them. The exact number won’t be known until the engineering firm sends the bill, but it would be in the neighborhood of $100,00.00 or more. So if the reason you are trying to stop the project is the cost to the county, that doesn’t make sense because it will cost the tax payers more if the project doesn’t go through. You trying to stop this project from going puts a larger burden on the tax payers than if it continues. This is how that works.

    • Concerned Taxpayer
      Posted at 07:24h, 17 July

      When the county starts telling the truth they will stop putting the the county at risk. Telling lies for financial gain is fraudulent.

  • Robert O. Bogue
    Posted at 14:59h, 17 July

    TC: Perhaps after a project is awarded and the engineering oversight has been provided during the construction project, then and only then are all of the engineering fees due.
    In this case, the county has Hanson Engineering on a retainer for the purpose of creating/justifying airport projects….. That retainer process was just renewed for something like 5 years.
    It is my understanding, that percentage of the project for engineering fees and construction oversight are not due, earned or payable until project completion. If you can prove otherwise, please don’t hesitate to let me know.
    Hopefully this county will not be saddled with a $72,000.00 addition on to what is now being spent at the airport for only a few aircraft. And this does not address the false and misleading statements included by Hanson Engineering in this/their proposal.
    To this, I have some additional thoughts on the airport spending and the project itself.
    First, I’ve never seen an new airport refueling area on asphalt…simply because aircraft fuel eats asphalt. Over half of this addition appears to be at or near the fueling area so it would seem logical that, admit it or not, there will be concrete in this project and lots of it.
    Keep in mind, the numbers on this most recent grant application are pretty close to this:
    – $1,110,325.00 total
    – Statewide taxpayers kicking in $40,000.00
    – Edgar County taxpayers and residents kicking in another $72,000.00.
    – The rest of the money of course comes from fuel sales tax dollars collected nationally from honest people: all hoping those monies will be spent on projects that are well justified.
    Our county board members…and Jeff Voigt in particular…seems to believe the operating expenses of the airport are warranted and justified simply as a cost of doing business. What I’m saying is, the unverified amount of $86,000.00 he claims as the airport operating costs have not been offset by the alleged income: an income that he is now toting as somewhere near $60,000.00.
    I’m saying this because in the last Airport Advisory Board Jeff Voigt indicated the combined monies from several accounts, and one in particular the farm land lease account…totaled the needed $72,000.00 for the airport expansion and that no additional monies would be needed from the budget or taxpayers.
    Clearly the gross income collected at the airport has not been used or applied to the airport operating costs if this money exists, nor have the county taxpayers benefited from that revenue.
    It’s only been used to dig a deeper hole for the county taxpayers and to spend this income on anything that suits them. By saying there are separate accounts, accounts that he controls and that are airport rental income accounts…he’s saying the general fund has not been reimbursed and that money is going elsewhere.
    In fact when adding the $86,000.00 of alleged cost of airport operation (it’s going up)
    – to the uncommitted or unassigned revenue of $60,000.00 that has not been returned to or paid back into the general fund, the total scope of this issue is far closer to $146,000.00. using Jeff Voigt’s figures which have not been substantiated.
    Then you add in bi-annual projects…such as last years attempt at defrauding the local, state, and federal government of something like an additional $60,000.00 or even the most recent attempt at $70,000.00 and your looking at $146,000.00 + $35,000.00 or about $181,000.00 per year to operate an airport with expansion projects that are unneeded or unwarranted.
    The money pit is deeper than most taxpayers realize. If you listen to Mr. Voigt, you will soon realize that he has not trouble spending taxpayer monies, misleading the public or in raising our taxes which will be the inevitable result.
    -The county cannot continue to overspend, to go beyond their budget and fail to pay off hundreds of thousands of dollars year after year with out a tax increase.
    – The only justifiable need for this airport at this time; is a credit card machine at the fuel pumps…something the county can do for less than $20,000.00 and a need that has been around for decades.
    Then there is the remaining matter of Jerry Griffin. Jerry Griffin is of course the counties flag bearer of lies and deceptions as he continues his employment……. only with the support of our county board members such as Jeff Voigt, Mike Heltsley, and Carl Farnham. His treatment of fuel customers and lack of safety awareness as demonstrated in this past Airport Advisory Board meeting by pilot complaints: show once again that he should have been terminated long ago.
    Need I also mention the illegal meeting of December 2013….deemed so by the state’s attorney general…..and that only one board member has refunded the county for pay they received during that meeting? At last count, none of the above accepted responsibility for same by doing so.
    The next thing our board members will be touting is the benefit of our airport to agriculture as a justification for any project they want.
    BE FORWARNED, this is not a discussion about closing the airport that already exists, one that serves the needs of agriculture, and that is now returning a benefit to the county taxpayers.
    I’m not advocating the closure of our airport as some have, but I’m advocating truth, honesty and an end to the unwarranted projects. I’m advocating the dismissal of the airport administrator for cause.
    – As a taxpayer shouldering the burden of this airport along with others, I would like to be proud of it’s operation: not ashamed.

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