by JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to The Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE — The most recent town council meeting was held on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 9. Matters discussed included the Minnesota Drive overpass refurbishment, the role that the Town of Stephenville played during the events of 9/11 as that day unfolded, and the purchase of Stephenville Airport by Dymond Group of Companies.
Minnesota Drive Overpass
Councilor Maurice Hynes moved that the Town of Stephenville accept a cost-shared funding project for the Minnesota Drive overpass refurbishment that was outlined via an approved letter from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure dated on Sept. 2nd. The total cost of the project is $1,215,081.00, and the Town of Stephenville agreed to pay one-third of the cost which totals $367,256.00.
“This is probably one of the first overpasses that were put into this island, and it has a very historical significance,” said Hynes. “It’s something we see every day and we take for granted, but now it is going to be refurbished which is great news.”
Mayor Tom Rose noted that the town is in good fiscal shape and has the financial resources necessary to avail of these cost-shared projects with the province.
“We’re in good fiscal management as a council and I’m very proud of what we’ve done,” said Rose. “Being in order to balance our books, have good budgets, manage our debt owed, and being able to move our town forward.”
Stephenville during 9/11
The commemorative dinner of the 20th anniversary of 9/11 scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 was brought up during the discussion of new businesses by Coun. Maurice Hynes. The dinner also coincides with the 80th anniversary of the Harmon Air Force Base. This led to a discussion regarding the role that the Town of Stephenville played during 9/11.
“Certainly no disrespect to Gander,” said Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow. “Sometimes I feel that we get left out a lot. I listen to CBC Radio as I’m coming in and they have people calling in, and everything is about Gander, and they’re in Gander tomorrow broadcasting, and they seem to have forgotten that, as a community, we played a very significant role as well.”
Fowlow added that she found it disheartening that, from a media perspective, Stephenville gets forgotten and isn’t mentioned in the same capacity.
Coun. Laura Aylward agreed that there is a disparity in representation between the role of the two communities.
“When I think about that day, and all the people that came out, and I made phone calls saying, ‘You know we’ve got lots of help here, everybody’s doing their part, and everybody came together,’ and I, like you, sometimes say ‘Well, you know, Stephenville is never mentioned,’” said Aylward.
Hynes then noted that the airport manager, Lew Short, is doing a presentation to about 160 nations on handling the 9/11 emergency, and the lessons learned.
Mayor Rose added that the Town of Stephenville has an incredible amount of resources to be able to handle the scope of such an event taking place.
Stephenville Airport purchase
It was announced at a press conference earlier that same day that Dymond Group of Companies purchased Stephenville Airport, and Coun. Don Gibbon took this time to congratulate Mayor Rose on the success.
“Today, that signature press conference, I’d say we had close to 100 people there, dignitaries, mayors, political elite from across the province, listening to what the Dymond Group of Companies wants to do in Stephenville,” said Mayor Rose. “They have been looking for an airport for a massive aerospace contract. In the ‘50’s it was the jet age, but today it is cargo, drones, and space. That’s where aerospace is going.”
The Dymond Group is investing 200 million dollars into Stephenville’s airport to build up the infrastructure and capacity so that the fiscal structures could be in place for their 1.4 billion dollar contract.
“This is not just good for Stephenville,” said Rose. “This is regional, provincial; this is Canada-wide.”
Rose said he spoke with members of the engineering staff from Dymond Group of Companies who are just as excited to get started.
“We just showcased what we’ve got,” said Rose. “It’s about timing. It’s for children and grandchildren, and like someone said this morning, ‘It’s for babies not even born’. It’s a great announcement and I’m very proud of it.”