THE AVIATION WING of the Marietta Museum of History might be about to have a new “pilot” at the controls.
The museum’s board of directors meets at 11 a.m. this morning and, according to Chairman Kee Carlisle, is expected to approve a new $1-a-year lease that would make Cobb County the landlord for the air park. The lease was negotiated by Carlisle and Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee, and would still have to be approved by the board of commissioners.
Lee and Carlisle told Around Town that the Air Force cannot turn over artifacts and properties directly to private entities (such as the museum), only to a government entity, in this case Cobb County. Although the Aviation Wing’s parent, the Museum of History, is in Marietta; the Wing property is just across South Cobb Drive in unincorporated Cobb.
The lease does not put the county on the financial hook for the museum, Lee said.
“There is no financial offer by the county toward the Wing’s plans for growth,” he said. “The intent is that any costs incurred be born 100 percent by the museum.”
“But I really believe the Aviation Wing is a tremendous asset to the county from (an) educational and tourist perspective, and I’m glad we’re a part of it.”
THE NEXT STEP for the Aviation Wing would be to build a pavilion and handicapped-accessible bathrooms, which would allow the facility to host large groups, tours, Scout groups, etc.
“We have inquiries all the time from groups wanting to use it,” Carlisle said. “So we know the possibility is there, but until we can build a pavilion and handicapped restrooms, we can’t accommodate folks.”
Hosting such groups is a key part of the Wing’s long-term plan.
“Rental of the pavilion will give us a source of income and make the Aviation Park more self-sustaining,” he said. “There have been numerous requests to host events such as family reunions and military reunion groups, so we feel this is a prudent path to take, adding to our income as well as making the Aviation Park a viable tourism product.
“Without the revenue stream from such events, there’s not much we can do to upgrade the air park. So for now we’re in a holding pattern, if you will, just trying to take care of the planes. Creating a financial stream is a critical part to the wing’s success.”
Carlisle also hasn’t ruled out approaching Lee for more help.
“Once we have the new lease, then I’m hoping that Tim might revisit the idea of them perhaps giving us a grant,” Carlisle told Around Town on Monday. “So I’m hoping that will happen.”
CARLISLE ESTIMATES the cost of building the pavilion and restrooms at about $64,000. The museum envisions spending another $165,000 for airplane restoration and landscaping over the next five years during Phase 1 of a proposed Site Development Plan to be discussed by the museum board this morning. The plan also includes finishing the restoration of the museum’s massive YC-141B StarLifter and moving the remaining portion of the AC-130A Hercules gunship to the park and restoring it.
The Aviation Wing currently charges $5 admission and is open three days a week, weather permitting, and is staffed and maintained by volunteers, most of whom are retired from Lockheed Martin, the Air Force or both.
“Most of those guys could take one of those planes apart and put it back together overnight,” Carlisle said.
PHASE 2 of the plan would involve a capital campaign to raise up to $800,000 with which to build a hangar-type museum showcasing Cobb’s aviation history.
“We see this project as having many benefits for our community,” concludes the plan. “We see tremendous potential as a tourism product for our county due to our proximity to I-75, I-285 and the US 41/Cobb Pkwy. We will encourage groups and organizations in and around Cobb to use our facility to see and understand how aviation was and continues to be instrumental in developing Cobb County from a farming community into a very technologically advanced community. As the facility grows we see potential for job creation as well as economic redevelopment and revitalization in the area surrounding the leased premises.”
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THE MARIETTA CITY COUNCIL is poised to approve a $68 million redevelopment bond on Wednesday, mostly to jump-start redevelopment in the problem-plagued Franklin Road corridor. Mayor Steve Tumlin has predicted the council will agree to put the bond to voters in a November referendum, but says Wednesday’s vote is not likely to be unanimous.
Among the few people publicly critical of the proposal is Charles Levinson, who is running against the mayor in this fall’s elections.
“Taxpayer-subsidized land dealing is my idea of a scheme, and the weed-filled vacancies that occupy what used to be known as Johnny Walker Homes and Lyman Homes are testimony to earlier failed redevelopment proposals, i.e., boondoggles,” Levinson told Around Town. “If it was innately profitable to do what my opponent would like to do, the private sector would already be hard at work doing it.”
COBB’S LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION has named commercial real estate broker Dan Buyers of Smyrna to the board of the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority succeeding Don Mabry. Buyers is a partner at McWhirter Realty Partners and a graduate of the University of Georgia.
The delegation also named two new members to the Cobb Elections Board: retired residential builder and building inspector Phil Daniell of Smyrna, who ran unsuccessfully in 2012 as a Republican for the House District 41 seat; and former state Rep. Fred Aiken of Smyrna, who served in the state House from 1980-92 and later worked for U.S. Reps. Newt Gingrich and Bob Barr.
The delegation also re-elected state Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) as chairman.
RUMORS CONTINUE to swirl about who will be the next director of the Marietta Visitors’ Bureau. A special meeting of the Bureau’s board has been called for 5:30 p.m. at the Marietta Welcome Center this evening to choose a successor for director Theresa Jenkins, who retired June 28 after 29 years.
Around Town also has learned that there was a move afoot for the board to choose the new director via email vote, but that it was blocked by other board members.
State law requires that such votes take place in public.
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MAMMA MIA! It’s ABBA at The Strand — or at least, a healthy dose of their music. The movie “Mamma Mia” (starring Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth and Meryl Streep and featuring a wealth of tunes by the Swedish Top 40 hitmakers) will be screened in sing-along format, with the song lyrics displayed at the bottom of the screen so the crowd can sing, too.
Festivities start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with a silent auction, followed at 7:30 p.m. by a pre-film concert by Misha Stefanuk on the Mighty Allen Theatre Organ.
Taking drink orders during the evening from what likely will be a mostly female audience will be “The Cabana Boys”: Georgia Public Service Commissioner Stan Wise, WellStar’s Gene Weeks, CPA Steve Imler, lawyer Bert Reeves and senior assistant Georgia Attorney General Van Pearlberg. Showtime is at 8 p.m. Tickets ($30) are available via the Strand box office (770) 293-0080, online, or in person at 117 North Park Square.
MDJ chief photographer Laura Moon resigned effective Friday after six years (three as chief) to join the Peace Corps. No word yet where she’ll be assigned. Among the highlights of her tenure were coverage of the funerals of Georgia State Trooper Chad LeCroy (killed in the line of duty) and McEachern High football star Rajaan Bennett, killed by his mother’s boyfriend.
Among the most memorable assignments were two involving animals. During her weekly visit to Cobb Animal Control she spotted a pair of dogs left in a locked car with the windows up on a July afternoon. Their owners had left them there while they went inside looking for another dog to adopt. They were fined and the dogs were saved.
Then, two years ago, when snapping pictures of a “stray” pony and donkey who had wandered into a Powder Springs subdivision, the donkey sniffed at her jacket pocket and then bit her on the hip — reportedly leaving a whopper of a bruise.
Bon voyage, Laura!