By Jaymie White
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, May 18, and matters discussed included the airport sale, the PBS program twinning with Lake City, South Carolina, and updates on the water system.
Councillor Myra White, as chair of the Finance Committee, asked that council provide the Stephenville Airport Corporation (SAC) with notification to terminate the contribution agreement that was previously approved.
Mayor Tom Rose wanted to clarify, before voting on the motion, why the notification to terminate the contribution would be taking place.
“Just a little update on the position of transfer of the airport to the Dymond Group, the NL Partnership. I sit on the board of directors as ex officio, so basically everything is in line for the transfer from Stephenville Airport Corporation to the Dymond Group. As of this past Monday (May 15), the money has transferred from the Dymond Group for the purchase of the airport, meeting the terms of that agreement, to a trust account with the Stephenville Airport Corporation’s lawyers to fulfill all the obligations of the terms,” explained Rose. “For example, the line of credit, which is approximately $1 million, plus other requirements, legal, GST, severances, everything. It’s great news for the Town of Stephenville.”
It has been a long time coming for the taxpayers of Stephenville.
“We could go back to 1989 when taxpayers of this town had to start putting money into the airport to stabilize it’s ability to operate under Transport Canada regulatory guidelines, so it’s a great step forward that the Dymond Group has fulfilled its terms,” said Rose.
“It took quite some time and I’d like to reiterate, because the Airport Corporation sat in bankruptcy for 17 years, it actually took an additional seven months into the timeline for the negotiation of the full deal. So it’s in the hands of the Airport Corporation’s lawyers, and I anticipate the transfer of the deed to the Dymond Group will happen very shortly, but it’s great news that we can finally say that, instead of the taxpayers supporting the operation of the airport, it’ll turn around 180 (degrees) where the airport will start providing funds to the taxpayers of this town.”
“It’s certainly good news, and as a result of that, of course, we put this motion forward because we don’t see any need anymore to provide anymore financial support,” said Deputy Mayor Susan Fowlow, who led the meeting as Mayor Rose attended via Zoom.
“As the mayor said, as we look now at taxes that will be coming in, for those people who were concerned about the money we were dispersing, we will see that back in the bank as taxes come in and business starts to happen. So that’s a very good news story and an important day for those of us who’ve been waiting for something to happen. And for those who held on to that faith, we are so much closer now, close enough to taste.”
“I’d like to say congratulations to the Greater NL Partnership, the Stephenville Airport Corporation, and to ourselves, and when I say ourselves, I mean every taxpayer in this town who has kept it open since 1989, to see a day like this. I look forward to see what the Greater NL Partnership will do, fulfilling the promises they made to the people of, not just this town, but this region. It’s exciting times,” said Coun. Lenny Tiller.
The motion was unanimously approved by council. The Town of Stephenville planned to provide the notice to terminate the agreement on Friday, May 19.
Coun. Myra White moved that the Town of Stephenville purchase sponsorship packages in the amount of $15,000, to ‘Home, it’s where the art is’, and ‘From Inside the Circle: Towns in Tune’.
The program, ‘Home, it’s where the art is’, will be airing on NTV in the fall of 2023, and ‘From Inside the Circle: Towns in Tune’ will air on SCETV-PBS in the fall of 2023.
Coun. Tracy Boland asked that the programs be explained to the taxpayers, so they understand what the funding is to be used for.
“This is a program that Stephenville town council has worked into as a twinning with Lake City, South Carolina. It comes out of a cultural twinning, whereas Stephenville, being a former US air force base with a lot of American connections – there’s actually eight bases that exist in South Carolina and I’m sure many people from those bases in South Carolina, rotated through Stephenville,” said Mayor Rose.
“But this is an opportunity to promote Stephenville, its culture, its Newfoundland talents, and its culinary abilities, to not just Newfoundland and Labrador, but the reach will hit anywhere between 60 and 70 per cent of the US market.”
Rose added that he was at the shoot in South Carolina on Apr. 22, where the same event took place, and artists from Newfoundland and South Carolina were showcased, as well as culinary artists.
“On Jun. 24, the event is taking place here in Stephenville, Newfoundland. It’s probably the first time on this scale that anything on this film capacity has ever happened by PBS in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Rose.
“It’ll be an event held at 7:00 p.m. Cocktails start at 6:00 p.m. on June 24. The location selected is the terminal of the airport because it was a former US military transport facility for the US air force base. It had all the checkpoints for the directors and producers to showcase the talents in that facility. Tickets will be going on sale, either this week or next week. They’re going to be in high demand, and all proceeds for the event stay with the food bank in Stephenville, so it’s a way for the event to give back to a charity in the community. In South Carolina it was the Boys and Girls Club.”
The motion was passed, with Coun. Lenny Tiller the lone vote against, so the motion carried.
Under new business, Coun. Tracy Boland asked if there were any updates on the status of the water system.
“The water engineers are in from next Tuesday for a few weeks and the rebuild of the system will start next Tuesday/Wednesday and then will continue for the next two weeks,” said Chief Administrative Officer Colin Maddock.