Election 2010: Truckee Tahoe Airport candidates talk heli skiing, non-pilot public | SierraSun.com

Election 2010: Truckee Tahoe Airport candidates talk heli skiing, non-pilot public

TRUCKEE, Calif. and#8212; On Tuesday, three of the five candidates for the Tahoe Truckee Airport District were subject to an array of community questions in their bid for two open seats.

Among all candidates seeking the spots are: Ernest Alioto, challenger; Desmond Elder, challenger; Robert Cohune, challenger; Katie Morrison, challenger; John Jones, challenger; and David Vaille, challenger.

Cohune, Morrison and Elder attended the Truckee Tahoe Community Television televised question-and-answer period held in the Town of Truckee council chambers. Jones was the lone non-attending candidate to submit an opening and closing statement, which was read at the forum.

Below are answers to two questions posed during the night.

Robert Cohune: The benefits for the non-flying public, I think, are many but fundamentally it is a recognition of two facts among our environment. No. 1, weand#8217;re in a thorough fare of trucks in our front yard and back yard. Secondly, the community at large is generally directed toward recreation. The community in general benefits by the huge investment and#8212; most recently by Northstar-at-Tahoe and Homewood Mountain resort, where people are coming in planes and#8212; and I mean jet planes and#8212; to enjoy those benefits that are in part, and not totally, a creature of the airport.

Desmond Elder: Our taxpayers receive a unique benefit. Our airport is one of the infrastructure components that make us a community and#8212; like the hospital, like having a school district, like having fire protection services, all key components to having sustainability to the community. And our taxpayers receive certain emergency infrastructure support from our airport. Weand#8217;re in a rural mountain community. We have CareFlight that comes out of there and that actually saves lives, an immediate response (that can) fly right to the hospital. We also have search and rescue facilities, we have fire protection services for our national forestry. All of these our taxpayers benefit from. In addition to that, our local businesses benefit from having the airport here as it generates revenue for the small business and even larger businesses in our community.

Katie Morrison: The airport works very hard to be a good neighbor and to provide services to the community. In addition to the emergency services such as CareFlight, and search and rescue, fire, safety services, the airport has been extremely active, especially the current board in acquiring open space which is a huge community benefit in this area where so many of us like to hike and bike. And the airport has partnered with many local organizations to make sure this open space doesnand#8217;t get developed and#8212; a great benefit to all of us. The other thing the current board has done is to create a new terminal building which will provide services for conference rooms for all of us or a new deli that will have expanded catering services.

Desmond Elder: With respect to heli skiing I wish I was in good enough shape to do that. As the airport is looking to bring on business operations out of the airport; we are a resort community and we generate our revenues through resorts, through skiing, through all the outdoor ski industries, and heli skiing is one component of it. And during the winter there are far fewer flights coming out of and into the Truckee airport so from a perspective of the volume of traffic, we want less impact, and it can actually support business and people will be attracted to come in and spend their dollars on heli skiing which supports jobs and our small businesses and I support that.

Katie Morrison: If this operation has the financial wherewithal and the knowledge of our backcountry, which it appears they do with their SnowCat operation, I applaud them in taking this to the next level. I think it is the natural next course of what theyand#8217;re already doing. And from somebody whoand#8217;s seeking a position on the Tahoe Truckee Airport Board of Directors, I would, if elected to the board, go ahead and talk to these guys, be proactive and ask them to use certain corridors and certain routes and try to be the least obtrusive they could be.

Robert Cohune: I strongly disagree with both of my fellow candidates. In this regard, look at the airport, what businesses are there at the current time that serve the larger community other than aviation. Thereand#8217;s a huge amount of plans, thereand#8217;s a few warehouses, there are what are called FBOand#8217;s. I think the heli skiing opportunity is a great first start, but there should be a thoughtful focus on those kind of industries or businesses that could be situated at the airport and increase the economic activity and increase employment and make it more an economic center than it already is.

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