County vouches for Mokulele pro­posal

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY ED­WIN DEL­GADO Staff Writer

The Im­pe­rial County Board of Su­per­vi­sors agreed to draft a let­ter of sup­port for Mokulele Air­lines dur­ing a reg­u­lar meet­ing Tues­day, to con­tinue pro­vid­ing the re­gion’s Es­sen­tial Air Ser­vice through the U.S. Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion.

The two-year con­tract is up for re­newal and three other air­lines are vy­ing for it as well. Dur­ing the meet­ing, the board lis­tened to pre­sen­ta­tions made by three of the four air­lines. Although the lo­cal cities and coun­ties in­put are taken into con­sid­er­a­tion the fi­nal de­ci­sion is made by the USDOT.

The three pre­sen­ters were the same three com­pa­nies who sought to fill the void left by Sea­port Air­lines fol­low­ing its abrupt end of op­er­a­tions in 2016. That opened the door for Mokulele in March 2016.

“If it’s not bro­ken, why fix it?” said District 3 Su­per­vi­sor Michael Kel­ley. “I’ve been ex­tremely happy with Mokulele and their pres­ence in the Im­pe­rial County. They have risen to the oc­ca­sion.”

Dur­ing the pre­vi­ous process, the county had unan­i­mously cho­sen to fa­vor Bou­tique Air, but the cities of El Cen­tro and Im­pe­rial sup­ported Mokulele.

Af­ter Tues­day’s, vote all three boards have of­fi­cially en­dorsed Mokulele.

“It has been an honor to serve this com­mu­nity and I’m proud of the job we’ve done for you,” said pres­i­dent of Mokulele Air­lines Rob McKin­ney.”

District 4 Su­per­vi­sor Ryan Kel­ley said although the air­line had served the com­mu­nity well and he would con­tinue to sup­port them, he re­minded the board of some of the rea­sons they had se­lected Bou­tique Air two years ago, in­clud­ing a pres­sur­ized cabin, more com­fort­able seat­ing and faster travel times.

“I agree Mokulele has served the com­mu­nity well,” he said. “I do want to re­mind us to not limit our view that we can only have the Cessna with nine seats in it (Mokulele’s plane). We should ex­pect more, I’m happy with the ser­vice that we have, but we should ex­pect more.”

One of the ma­jor fac­tors which fa­vored Mokulele in the pre­vi­ous round was the fact they sought the small­est sub­sidy from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

For the 2018 pro­posal Mokulele, again, is the air­line which asks for the small­est sub­sidy just un­der $2.5 mil­lion for two years. Avi­a­tion Street sought a sim­i­lar sub­sidy but wasn’t in at­ten­dance to present its pro­posal.

Bou­tique Air is re­quest­ing a $3.38 mil­lion sub­sidy, while Great Lakes Avi­a­tion seeks a sub­sidy of nearly $3 mil­lion.

The cur­rent con­tract for Mokulele ex­pires April 30.

Area Agency on Ag­ing

Fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of the for­mer di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tor and di­rec­tor of the Area Agency on Ag­ing Norma Saikhon last July, the Board of Su­per­vi­sors unan­i­mously se­lected Rosie Blanken­ship to lead the agency dur­ing closed ses­sion.

Since Saikhon’s re­tire­ment, Blanken­ship has served as the in­terim di­rec­tor of the agency.

This was an elected po­si­tion un­til last fall when Assem­bly Bill 798 au­thored by Assem­bly­man Ed­uardo Gar­cia — and sup­ported by the county — was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The bill gave the Board of Su­per­vi­sors the au­thor­ity to ap­point who will lead the agency.

The Of­fice of the Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tor is re­spon­si­ble for han­dling the as­sets of peo­ple who die with­out a will or who lack the abil­ity to man­age their own as­sets for phys­i­cal or men­tal in­ca­pac­ity.

The Of­fice of the Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tor pro­vides sup­port to more than 800 peo­ple by man­age­ment of their prop­erty, ei­ther by or­der of a judge or those who have died with­out a will.

“I humbly ac­cept this ap­point­ment.

I’m hon­ored to be able to serve our com­mu­nity, we got a lot of work ahead of us as we serve a very vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tion,” Blanken­ship said fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment. “... we are the con­ser­va­tors, we are the guardians, we are the pro­tec­tors, we are the agency of last re­sort, we are the voice of the vul­ner­a­ble rep­re­sent­ing our se­nior com­mu­nity, we are ex­cited and ready to con­tinue ad­vo­cat­ing and start­ing new pro­grams.”

FILE PHOTO

A plane pre­pares to take off from the Mokulele Air­lines in Im­pe­rial County.

Rosie Blanken­ship who has served as the act­ing Pub­lic Ad­min­is­tra­tor since July was ap­pointed for the per­ma­nent role af­ter a unan­i­mous vote dur­ing closed ses­sion. ED­WIN DEL­GADO PHOTO

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