System will serve all residents

To the editor:

I’m writing to publicly thank four members of the Ontonagon County Board of Commissioners for their visionary and thoughtful support of the Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS-3) at the June 20th county board meeting.

Commissioners David Nykanen, Gray Webber, John Cane, and Chairman Carl Nykanen all deserve our thanks for supporting this vital investment in the county’s infrastructure by a vote of 4 to 1. Commissioner Bourdeau was the only “no” vote.

Not only will AWOS-3 allow more frequent use of the county airport for emergency medical transports, it will encourage greater use of the airport by potential commercial and residential investors, customers of current and future business owners, small charter aircraft businesses, as well as private pilots who visit or live in the area.

Additionally, boaters, hikers, travelers, and all members of the general public will have free access to the real-time weather information upon its installation in 2018.

The system will also allow the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Marquette to plug a gap in their coverage area, and allow them to more accurately, and rapidly, prepare weather forecasts to better serve Ontonagon County. A fast-moving storm in July, 2016, caught the county off-guard because the NWS lacked the information required to issue a warning before the storm approached.

In all respects, the AWOS-3 will be benefit the entire county, not just those who use the airport.

Better yet, the purchase and installation of AWOS-3 will be funded through the federal government’s Airport Improvement Program, and the Carl Thornton Endowment Fund.

Only the annual maintenance expenses of $8,000 will need to be paid by county taxpayers.

With about 6,000 residents in the county, that comes to just over 11 cents a head, per month, to service a system that may save your life, or mine. Not to mention attract investment, create jobs, and expand the tax base.

Pretty good deal, I’d say!

Those of us who united to advocate for this important addition to the infrastructure did not pressure anyone. We simply did our homework, and expressed ourselves to our elected representatives, which is how a democracy works.

We did not attack other county departments or staff, or suggest that money be taken from their budgets to fund AWOS-3, because there is plenty of money on hand to fund the vital or urgent needs in our county.

Alan Ralph