MT. VERNON — A unexpected failure of the outdoor walk-in freezer on Monday led to Wilkey's Cafe owner Donnie Wilkey asking the Airport Board to reimburse his frozen inventory.
"He and one of his suppliers inventoried everything that was in the freezer," said Mt. Vernon Outland Airport Manager Chris Collins. "It's not a fair list to turn in to the airport. He didn't buy the stock at those prices; he bought things on sale and stockpiled things. He's probably not going to (replace) all that stuff now and pay retail for all that. We need to find a way to help him and we need to study that."
Collins said Wilkey is supposed to monitor the freezer, but was not in the restaurant when it failed.
"It was the first day this year when it got up in the 90s," Collins said.
Collins explained Wilkey provided him with the information on the spoiled inventory, hoping the Airport Board would approve turning it in to the airport insurance carrier.
"I'm adamant about that — no way," Collins said. "When we put in insurance claims, it increases our premiums, and eventually can make us uninsurable. Unless it's a crater in a runway, we will avoid an insurance claim."
But, Collins and the board are willing to help the restaurant.
"We don't want to say you're going to bear this all alone," Collins said. "But, we want to be fair and not leave this up to the taxpayers."
Some of the ideas for working with Wilkey include offering a rent abatement or a reimbursement for a portion of ruined food costs.
The freezer was identified earlier this year as needing to be replaced at some point.
"When the Moose had its auction, we bought their coolers," Collins said. "We just can't help when things fail. We did our homework, bought the replacement, but it hadn't been changed out yet."
Collins said the Airport may sell the surplus walk-in cooler and purchase some indoor deep freeze units for Wilkey so he an watch them easier. Decisions on how to handle the claim and freezers are expected next month.
In other business, the Airport Board approved new signage at the facility, and the design for a new gate guard.
"A gate guard is a small plane on a pedestal which usually sits at the entrance to an airport," Collins explained.
The gate guard will be comprised of a 23-foot-long concept jet, designed by a Czechoslovakian company. The jet, named "Scaled Wings" was shown at the annual EAA Fly-In in Oshkosh, Wis., and abandoned by the maker. Hanson Air Services, a light sport aircraft manufacturer that shows at the LSA Expo at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport, took possession of the jet prototype and donated it to the local facility.
"We now are the proud owners of a gate guard. We're going to get an airplane and mount it on a stick in front of our airport," Chairman Mike Ancona said. "We've been wanting to do that for a long time. With regards to signage, that would be a pretty neat addition."
Collins said the airport insurance carrier has asked the facility to post extra signage at the airport due to safety concerns. The funds for the gate guard and the signs is included in the facility capital plan, Momentum 2020. When SIU student Michel Junik became an intern at the airport, Collins asked him to work with T. Ham Sign Co., and design the additional signage.
Signs will post rules about the airport such as no swimming or boating on the lake and no activities after sunset without permission. The signs also list the airport number to report unsafe conditions; warnings to the public that vehicles are not allowed on the dam and directions to cargo areas for loading and off-loading of aircraft.
Other action taken by the board were:
Approving a bid from Undercut Tree Service in the amount of $9,500 to remove trees in a fence row causing a flight path obstruction; and
Approving the Salute to Freedom celebration and fireworks display on July 4.
Original article can be found here: http://www.register-news.com