The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Airstrip vs cell tower; Eagle View getting the correct info out, among County concerns

By Sally Day for the Quill

Airstrip vs cell tower

Zoning Officer Coral Seitz explained a situation concerning a cell tower and an air strip, during Tuesday's (August 14, 2012) Henderson County Board meeting.

Matt Defenbaugh, owner of the air strip, had been on hand at the Zoning Committee meeting to discuss a variance, asked for by a cell tower carrier.

The variance, requested due to the height of the tower, was granted by the Zoning Committee, pending the approval of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration). An application for FAA approval has been made.

G.W. Giertz, Asset Management Trust owns the property which Verizon has leased for the purpose of placing their cell tower. The entire acreage is 64.77 acres and Verizon is leasing 100'X100' at the corner of Highway 34 and 2000E in Henderson County. Alexander Novak, representative of Verizon Cell Carrier, was also on hand for the County Board meeting.

Defenbaugh, a licensed pilot, has utilized the air strip for several years, and the Illinois Department of Transportation has certified it as an Ultralight Private-use Airport in April 2012. The air strip can be used by someone else to land on, with Defenbaugh's permission.

It also can and has been used for emergency landings.

The cell tower could be assessed for between $25,000 and $60,000, or between $4,000-$5,000 to be collected in tax monies. It was also noted that 64 acres of farmland could be assessed at approximately $1,000.

Five other cell companies, beside Verison will use the cell tower.

The problem with the tower is that it is within the field of vision as take-offs and landings are committed and the height could provide an additional danger. Atop the tower will be a strobe light, blinking white at night and amber during the day. The height of the tower will be 260'. The tower is 2,750' from the air strip.

The Board asked if the air strip could be moved and the simple answer was "no, it could not."

They then asked if the tower could be moved and, again, "it could not be moved."

County Board President, Marty Lafary, asked, what would stop another cell company from coming in and placing a cell tower on the other side of the air strip. Lafary is also a pilot.

Board member Bob Peterson noted that he was also a pilot and if a tower was near where he lands and takes-off, he would certainly have to be more cautious.

Peterson also noted that take-offs and landings are the most dangerous time in any flight. The Board agreed to table this matter until next month.

Eagle View Concerns

Also present at the Board meeting was Melinda Whiteman, Executive Director of Eagle View Community Health System. Whiteman was on hand to explain to the Board how Eagle View is funded and runs.

"We do not receive county funds," she noted. "We have never been a county entity," Whiteman added. "We are funded federally."

Although they work on some projects with the Henderson County Health Department, they are in no way affiliated with them. Obviously and deservedly proud of the facilities, Whiteman told the Board about the Stronghurst location housing the first tele-pharmacy in the State of Illinois. They are a private, not-for-profit facility, serving all, with or without insurance.

Total medical and dental patient visits in Oquawka and Stronghurst were 17,638, during the year 2011. Full charge value of services provided in those same facilities for the same time period were $2907,652. Also, in the same facilities, there are 33 full-time employees and 4 part-time employees.

In 2011, Eagle View received the following competitive grants: Federal Affordable Care Act - Capital Development $1,069,669.00, and State of Illinois Healthcare and Family Services Oral Health Expansion $100,000.00. Also, in 2011, the Federal Government dropped older adults dental monies through Medicaid.

Eagle View serves people in Henderson, Warren, Mercer, and McDonough Counties, with facilities in Oquawka, Stronghurst, and Macomb, and Brent's Family Pharmacy located in Oquawka and Stronghurst.

In other business, the Board: