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Georgia State Patrol helicopter moving to Augusta

Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012 9:59 PM
Last updated 10:06 PM
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The Georgia State Patrol helicopter housed in Thomson soon will have a new hangar and pad at Augusta Regional Airport.

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GSP helicopter pilot Sgt. Cravens is stationed at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. The helicopter soon will have a new hangar and pad at Augusta Regional Airport.  GARTH SNOW/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
GARTH SNOW/MORRIS NEWS SERVICE
GSP helicopter pilot Sgt. Cravens is stationed at Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. The helicopter soon will have a new hangar and pad at Augusta Regional Airport.

Commissioner Joe Jackson said he had pushed the move for years, but Tuesday, the Augusta Commission unanimously approved authorizing City Administrator Fred Russell to develop a plan with the Georgia Department of Public Safety to construct the hangar and pad using local sales-tax dollars.

Jackson, who chairs the commission’s Public Safety Committee, said the state patrol aircraft is outgrowing the aging space in Thomson, and the move will benefit the city through its proximity and the sale of jet fuel at the airport.

“We have a lot of sales tax money left over,” Jackson said. “Let’s use it for positive things.”

The helicopter, which is piloted by Georgia State Patrol Sgt. Herbert Cravens, will move permanently to Augusta although it serves a 13-county region. It is often requested for use by agencies for tracking missing persons and aerial surveillance of large crime, wreck or disaster scenes, Jackson said.

The Georgia State Patrol post that had been located in Thomson recently moved into a new facility in Grovetown.

Jackson said he expected the project to cost approximately $600,000.

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BuckeyeInGA
114
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BuckeyeInGA 01/17/12 - 11:19 pm
0
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Great idea but wouldn't

Great idea but wouldn't Daniel Field airport be more convenient? I had to laugh though, when I read a commissioner's comment about our tax money. “We have a lot of sales tax money left over,” Jackson said. “Let’s use it for positive things.” Gotta love it.

dichotomy
31964
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dichotomy 01/17/12 - 11:44 pm
0
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"the state patrol aircraft is

"the state patrol aircraft is outgrowing the aging space in Thomson"

Hmmm. Is the helicopter getting fatter or what?

Is this a status symbol or something to have a state patrol helicopter stationed here? Funny, I'm not feeling the tingle run down my leg at spending $600K for a hanger for a piece of state equipment. How many potholes in south Richmond county can you fix for $600K?

"“We have a lot of sales tax money left over"

So, we've got sales tax money just laying around looking for a way to be wasted but you downtown clowns are hollering about budget deficits, won't cut spending, and keep hinting that you are going to raise our property taxes. You people are unbelievable. If things were right in this world you people would be afraid to show your face in public.

Just My Opinion
5454
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Just My Opinion 01/18/12 - 05:39 am
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Well, whatever the reasons

Well, whatever the reasons for the move, good job to Joe Jackson for getting it done!

Riverman1
82105
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Riverman1 01/18/12 - 05:52 am
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I don't get spending $600,000

I don't get spending $600,000 either. The helicopter will be used over the entire district of 13 counties. Thomson is more centrally located. Is the fuel tax on the gas for the plane seriously being given as the reason for spending this huge amount? If that's it we may recoup the money in a few hundred years. I'm curious what Joe Jackson thinks this helicopter being here will accomplish?

Riverman1
82105
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Riverman1 01/18/12 - 06:16 am
0
0
What could Richmond County

What could Richmond County have done with 600 grand? Are we at the point where we allow a Commissioner to simply spend that kind of money for what he wants even if it has little to do with the county? I thought Betty Beard was bad giving her friend $20,000 of county money for weight loss surgery, but this makes her gift look minor.

"Jackson, who chairs the commission’s Public Safety Committee, said the state patrol aircraft is outgrowing the aging space in Thomson..."

Please tell me how that helicopter is growing? Does the hangar in Thomson getting older mean something? I think Joe Jackson gets free helicopter rides.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 01/18/12 - 06:32 am
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0
That was my first thought.

That was my first thought. "aircraft is outgrowing the aging space in Thomson". I didn't know they got larger with age. Let's buy some Cessnas, hang on to them for a while and sell some 747s.

Techfan
6461
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Techfan 01/18/12 - 06:35 am
0
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Also, it would seem that

Also, it would seem that having the copter at the state border would increase the flight hours on it.

914darknlovely
8
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914darknlovely 01/18/12 - 07:43 am
0
0
Daniel Field Airport is a

Daniel Field Airport is a private airport. My guess is that it it would cost more to build and pay some type a rental fee at Daniel Field than to store it at Augusta Regional. Also, the distance, by air, is probably inconsequential.

htj
0
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htj 01/18/12 - 08:54 am
0
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Daniel Field is owned by the

Daniel Field is owned by the city by the way. But I am curious about
“We have a lot of sales tax money left over,” Jackson said. Does Fred Russell know about that money?

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/18/12 - 08:58 am
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How much gas do you have to

How much gas do you have to sell to generate $600,000 in taxes on one helicopter that only flies occasionally? And, how many years would it take to generate this $600,000?

eb97
835
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eb97 01/18/12 - 12:35 pm
0
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This just goes to prove how

This just goes to prove how inept our local government is because if we are in such a short-fall and people and programs are being cut, our unused taxes are going to build a hanger for a helicopter that will be used by 13 counties and we are the only one footing the bill. This is just laughable and sad at the same time. This is why we are moving to North Augusta.

Connor Threlkeld
711
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Connor Threlkeld 01/18/12 - 12:45 pm
0
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As I understand it, SPLOST

As I understand it, SPLOST money can only be used for spending on capital projects, not the day-to-day funding of city/county government operations. Perhaps someone can confirm.

Little Lamb
45231
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Little Lamb 01/18/12 - 12:50 pm
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Well, yes that's true. But

Well, yes that's true. But the SPLOST money is supposed to go to the list of projects that are put before the voters. They are not supposed to just accumulate and be considered "left-over dollars" (Commissioner Jackson's term) and spent frivolously.

It would be proper to return these left-over dollars to taxpayers in the form of credit on our property tax bills.

Little Lamb
45231
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Little Lamb 01/18/12 - 12:55 pm
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From the article: Jackson,

From the article:

Jackson, who chairs the commission’s Public Safety Committee, said the state patrol aircraft is outgrowing the aging space in Thomson.

Jackson needs to engage brain before opening mouth. Aircraft do not grow. And every building in the world is aging. Nothing becomes younger.

eb97
835
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eb97 01/18/12 - 12:56 pm
0
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LL, you are so right and it

LL, you are so right and it is too bad our commissioners don't get that. I think they get it but are busy trying to make a name for themselves for future political aspirations.

Connor Threlkeld
711
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Connor Threlkeld 01/18/12 - 02:34 pm
0
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Little Lamb, I agree with

Little Lamb, I agree with your statement that it should fund the projects approved by voters. I'm not defending the spending on the helicopter pad, I'm just answering the concerns of people who are upset because they will not use it to cover the budget gap.

leeagle
0
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leeagle 01/18/12 - 02:50 pm
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Insider Information--I'm

Insider Information--I'm curious, how is it that you know how often this helicopter flies? Please share your insider sources!!

Little Lamb
45231
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Little Lamb 01/18/12 - 03:16 pm
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Did I miss something? Won't

Did I miss something? Won't there be an elephant inside that hangar? Who owns the land the hangar will sit on? Who will own the hangar? Will the owner get any rent from the State Patrol? Will the rent be sufficient to cover maintenance costs and depreciation? What will the city's ongoing responsibilities toward the State Patrol be?

When the commission authorizes Fred (What, me worry?) Russell to "come up with a plan," taxpayers had better reach for their wallets. He came up with a "plan" to have taxpayers pay for a new parking deck for the Marriott Hotel on land not owned by the city. And the city does not operate the deck.

He came up with a plan to build a courthouse. The courthouse is massive, but the parking lot is the size of a postage stamp.

He came up with a plan to spruce up the land at the old depot. They spent $9 million hauling dirt away to some toxic landfill and replacing it with "clean" dirt. Now we have a clean dirt depot sitting empty.

Fred's "plans" turn toxic to the taxpayers.

Little Lamb
45231
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Little Lamb 01/18/12 - 03:48 pm
0
0
Don't even get me started on

Don't even get me started on Fred's "plan" to build a lake adjacent to the Regency Mall property.

And upcoming harebrained plan is to purchase lots and homes from owners in Hyde Park, then pay everyone currently living there a "re-location stipend," then turn an entire, functioning subdivision into a retention pond!

We are being planned to death!

Discussionstarter
478
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Discussionstarter 01/18/12 - 04:01 pm
0
0
This is another short-sighted

This is another short-sighted decision using tax-payer monies! Deke... step up and do what is right; there are a lot of other better issues to spend the $600k on!

Riverman1
82105
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Riverman1 01/18/12 - 09:22 pm
0
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I'm telling y'all Joe Jackson

I'm telling y'all Joe Jackson is getting free helicopter rides. I don't care if it's Splost or what, when Richmond County can throw away $600 thousand the absurd level has been reached.

Insider Information
4009
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Insider Information 01/18/12 - 09:57 pm
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leeagle, my inside source is

leeagle, my inside source is the Chronicle. The story states that the helicopter is used for "tracking missing persons and aerial surveillance of large crime, wreck or disaster scenes." In other words, the helicopter does not routinely fly, but only flies for extraordinary events.

leeagle
0
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leeagle 01/18/12 - 10:26 pm
0
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Then the Chronicle should do

Then the Chronicle should do better research. Apologies Insider.

Little Lamb
45231
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Little Lamb 01/19/12 - 09:38 am
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The $600,000 is not the only

The $600,000 is not the only issue here, although it is important. Our commissioners glibly spend $600,000 here, $400,000 there, and $800,000 over there. It's no bid deal to them. To them, SPLOST is "found" money. No one complains when they spend it. It's just a penny. That mindset is a problem.

We can see these magnificent buildings and roads purchased with SPLOST pennies. But more troubling to me is what we don't see. Once these buildings are built, they must be managed and maintained. Do you think these commissioners ever think about the ongoing costs of these buildings, costs that must come from the general fund unless the commissioners set up some sort of rent or fee to cover the costs.

Do you think the rentals on the TEE Center will cover the operation and maintenance costs of the facility? Never in a million years.

Do you think the parking fees from the top three floors of the Marriot Hotel parking deck will cover the costs? No. (Don't forget that all the fees from the ground floor accrue to some convoluted LLC traceable back to the Morris organization.)

What about the operation and maintenance costs of this hangar? I hope the editors of the Chronicle will assign a reporter to dig into the details about what kind of rent arrangement Fred (What, me worry?) Russell has made with the State Patrol (and perhaps the aviation authority). Then I hope they will ask property managment professionals whether such a rent agreement will even come close to meeting the costs.

Riverman1
82105
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Riverman1 01/19/12 - 09:44 am
0
0
LL, exactly. No one wants to

LL, exactly. No one wants to document where the extra money goes. Never mind it is in the millions. Can you believe this? I guarantee you Joe Jackson has some kind of connection with this helicopter. I'll bet you a case of something he has at least ridden in it.

garner49
0
Points
garner49 01/19/12 - 11:52 am
0
0
Daniel Field is not private,

Daniel Field is not private, is owned by the city. The FBO (Fixed Base Operator) is a locally owned/operated company (Augusta Aviation) that provides service and support for any based and transit aircraft.

This news would be a better fit at Daniel. Bush field (Augusta Regional) is often blanketed in fog due to its location, has commercial traffic to deal with and is less assessable when needed. This new $600k building could also house the medical helicopter that is based now at Daniel to get it out of the weather.

As others have said too per Jackson's quote of "a lot of sales tax money left over"; So are we paying too much? How about collecting tax money from the "13-county region" it now serves, instead of our county paying it all? My home taxes tripled in three years; did I overpay? And they are talking about raising them again.

Riverman1
82105
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Riverman1 01/19/12 - 04:10 pm
0
0
Why does the state even have

Why does the state even have a helicopter? Especially why does Richmond County have to contribute 600 grand to it? The thing doesn't transport patients from wrecks. The article says: "It is often requested for use by agencies for tracking missing persons and aerial surveillance of large crime, wreck or disaster scenes, Jackson said."

That doesn't seem like it's very cost effective to me when the state is laying off troopers. How many jobs with people on the ground patrolling could have been saved?

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