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Air show for 2011 could be in jeopardy

An air show at Stevens Field may not become a reality in 2011, despite months of promoting the event.

Airport Advisory Commission member Mike Arbuthnot delivered the news to the Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners in an AAC report Tuesday evening, telling the commissioners that, unless another entity with more financial and personnel resources takes over production of the show, it has little chance of success.

Arbuthnot said he and the AAC believe the project is a town and county project versus an airport project because businesses throughout the town and county will be the beneficiaries.

Arbuthnot added that, to date, airport Manager Bill McKown has only received a “handful” of volunteers and contributions to the show, scheduled to take place in August.

“This event is rapidly becoming beyond any chance of success,” Arbuthnot said.

Arbuthnot also said McKown and the AAC feared that a show not living up to the standards of the community would lower the opinions of the airport that have been built up in recent years.

If no other entity takes ownership of the show by Jan. 31, Arbuthnot said the show would be cancelled.

McKown said he had talked with the Chamber of Commerce staff, though he has not had the ownership discussion with them, while Arbuthnot noted that it was a significant financial investment that area businesses should make, while admitting later that few people or organizations in town have the resources to accomplish the task of the air show.

Commenting that he couldn’t help but “stick his foot in the cow pie one more time,” Commissioner Bob Moomaw, in a discussion of who in town should produce the event, voiced his opinion that a combined Town Tourism Committee and County Tourism Commission should take on the task, since they are charged with promoting and drawing people to Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County.

With hopes of drawing a major flight team in future years and finding a new owner for the air show, hopes of aerial displays above Pagosa Springs are not dead.

In other airport news, Arbuthnot said the AAC and airport are undertaking a number of maintenance projects in 2011 due to the lack of federal and state money for new projects, including reviewing the Airport Minimum Standards document, relining a fuel tank, and repainting airport surfaces (runway striping, for example).

Additionally, Arbuthnot reported that the AAC adopted a proclamation to institute a Stevens Field Auxiliary Group to increase awareness of the airport in the community — a fact that alerted County Attorney Todd Starr.

Arbuthnot said the volunteer group chartered by the AAC would have a president and a bank account in order to promote the airport and organize events at the facility.

Starr expressed concern with an advisory board chartering and creating a subcommittee and approving proclamations, noting he disapproved of the structure of the group, not the idea of the group.

Starr vowed to work with the AAC to revise the structure of the group.

The next meeting of the AAC is scheduled for Jan. 20.