The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Speaking of pilot safety...

by Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher

Matt and Tonya Defenbaugh of rural Biggsville, who recently received certification from the FAA on their landing strip, are very concerned for the safety of pilots using their airstrip. The strip is located on their farm near the east edge of Henderson County just off Highway 34.

A newly proposed Verizon tower has been approved for installation on the Giertz farm right across the county road near his landing approach.

If the tower is moved further west on the Giertz property it would help with safety, Matt says.

The County Board met Tuesday morning for their regular board meeting and discussed this safety issue and the pros and cons of building the Verizon tower in this location.

Matt said, his strip has been used for emergency landings, landings by several fellow pilots, crop dusters, as well as himself.

"It just makes sense to do something to avoid these tragedies before they happen," Matt told The Quill.

He had attended the zoning board hearing earlier this month to voice his concerns for safety, but the members approved it.

We're in hopes Marty Lafary, Chairman of the County Board and the other county board members will ask for an adjustment in where the tower is placed before it is too late.

Defenbaughs' hanger has been built and the airstrip has been in place for several years now as Matt has several planes and is an active pilot, and belongs to a flying club.

"There are several tragedies in the area that have happened," Matt said.

"If only something had been done before hand to make things safer, a life may have been spared, or a tragedy avoided. That's my concern. Here is our opportunity."

Matt worked hard to meet all the requirements for building an FAA airstrip and put money into building a hanger along side the airstrip which also brings tax dollars into the county.

"I'm not saying they can't have the tower or the county not have the revenue. I'm just asking that it be moved further to the west to a safer location for landing and take-off."

At the county board meeting Tuesday, the Verizon representative said the tower can not be moved when questioned. However, the tower is proposed further west and south of an earlier planned site that the same representative said the tower couldn't be moved from, according to a man involved in the incident.

For those who would like to contact the board members on these or any other issue involving the county, here is the list of those serving you on the Henderson County Board:

Marty Lafary, Chr. 627-2482

Gail Russell 627-2149

Barbara Lumbeck 867-3181

Albert Renken 924-1027

R. "Tex" Stewart 627-2123

Bob Peterson 873-2555

Curt Eisenmayer 924-1328

Jim Alexander 873-2334

Cathy Good 627-2914

Mike Bundy 873-2346

Mark Lumbeck 867-3101