Takeoff: Construction starts on landing pad

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lewisburg and Marshall County construction officials started the groundwork Monday for a helicopter-landing pad at the Emergency Medical Service headquarters on Ellington Parkway at Spring Place Road.

Construction could be completed in about a week if the weather was right, according to Lewisburg Public Works Construction Supervisor Bill Curtis who knows the landing pad is a Leadership Marshall project.

As a result, much of the work is to be done by volunteers in the class that's studying local government and community life. With the assistance of three fellow classmates who are county commissioners, the class obtained a $2,000 appropriation from the County Commission to buy lumber for concrete forms and steel rebar to reinforce the landing pad.

"The Highway Department put it on grade," said Commission Chairman Billy Spivey, a member of the class. "Now the forms will be set."

County Building Inspector Don Nelson is a graduate of a previous Leadership Marshall class. His wife, Jenise, is one of the students who decided to build a landing pad for their class project.

"Don and I and some other volunteers will set the rebar," Spivey said of work planned on Tuesday this week. "It will be done in stages like that with volunteers."

Curtis described the landing pad as 10-inch-deep concrete on four inches of gravel, all measuring 35 feet by 35 feet.

"It's something the county needs," County Highway Superintendent Jerry Williams said. "We're all working together for the safety of the county."

The county building inspector said, "Once the pad is done, we need to build a sidewalk to roll patients' stretchers on."

Farmington Rich Creek Fire Department has been working toward construction of a landing pad next to its fire hall and Williams said the Highway Department would help with that project, too.

"As long as it's on county property, we'll help as much as we can," he said. "Even you or I could have to be carried out."

Williams estimated that the cost of labor and equipment provided by his department on Monday was worth about $400.

If his staff wasn't working on the landing pad, they'd be cleaning out pipes, or doing other Highway Department work, Williams said.

The appropriation of $2,000 for the landing pad came from the revenue raised from hotel and motel room rent taxes that are administered by the county commission's Economic and Community Development-Tourism Committee.

Commissioner Jimmy Stitt is chairman of that committee. He raised the question of county funding as a matter for additional consideration during the commission's April 26 meeting. Since it wasn't filed in time to be on the commission meeting's agenda, Stitt asked that the meeting rules be suspended so the panel could vote.

Commissioners E.W. Hill and Scottie Poarch are in the Leadership Marshall class with Spivey and Bonnie Scheuchenzuber, Eric Michael, Gina Jones, Jenise Nelson, Jennifer Allen, Jessica Hopper, Joel Childress, Rick Seaton, Tamekia Harris and Tara Ewing. Lynda Potts is the volunteer coordinator for Leadership Marshall.

EMS Director James Whorley told the commissioners during their April 26 meeting that he knew Leadership Marshall students selected projects to improve the community, so he suggested they consider building a pad at Marshall Medical Center. The hospital here is owned by Maury Regional Medical Center.

Leadership Marshall students consulted with the hospital's leaders in Columbia but eventually decided to proceed on their own. Spivey said members of his class were told that the landing pad built by the hospital in Columbia cost $90,000.

"A lot of the $90,000 was for applications and design," Spivey told the commission.

Members of the Leadership Marshall classes are "from all sorts of businesses, backgrounds and communities," Spivey said. "I didn't do it just because I'm a commissioner. I did it for the learning experience."