EDGAR CO., IL. (ECWd) -
For the second time in the past 18 months, and in a move reminiscent of what we reported in September of 2014, when we wrote about the Federal Aviation Administration ("FAA") calling a work stoppage on all work related to the Edgar County Airport grant application, the Illinois department of Transportation, Division of Aeronautics ("IDOT-DA"), has once again asked the county to temporarily, "suspend all activity on state and federally funded development projects at Edgar County Airport".
The major issue on this suspension of work is what we pointed out to the Edgar County Board, who quickly dismissed it, and then we reported to IDOT-DA, that the statute the Edgar County Airport was operating under requires county zoning in order to expand its landing fields, etc.
The state should be looking at other counties to see how many of them have the same issues. IDOT would then have to come up with some type of legal opinion and decide whether or not to keep funneling money into these airport projects that are in violation of state law. I do not believe the FAA will allow its funds to be used in violation of state law, but I guess we will have to wait and see.
There are other outstanding issues related to federal grant assurances (agreements to do certain things for a defined time-frame after receiving the grant) that need fixed, like getting rid of preferential treatment of certain t-hanger leaseholders, among others.
The grant work stoppage from 2014 was issued because the county reported numerous items in the grant application that were simply untrue - by a wide margin (here). the board was instructed to resubmit its justification for the grant in order to be considered. They resubmitted it, but still had untrue statements and projections listed in the application - not to mention the statute the airport is operating under, that I had to sue the county in order for them to officially state which statute it was, requires county zoning for expansions, something Edgar County does not have (read this article).
The lawsuit is a prime example of county board member Mike Heltsley's "utterly useless spending" comment in a recent letter of his. The utterly useless spending was the Edgar County Board actually going to court to try and tell a Judge they did not have to tell the public what statute they were operating the county airport under. Let that one sink in for a minute...yes, the Edgar County State's Attorney actually argued against giving me a copy of that statute. So, yes, Heltsley was right on the utterly useless spending, but it was the County who willingly spent the money. The county ultimately provided the statute and paid my court costs.