Myths exist about Rountree Field
There are two myths about the Hartselle Airport that have caused a great deal of resentment and distrust of our local leaders that are desperately trying to make something out of our airport that is beyond its potential.
Myth No. 1: The airport was here first. The airport was not here when Tanner Heights was started in 1957 or was considered "built-out" with approximately 140 homes in 1963, two years before the airport was complete in 1965. At the Airport Public Hearing of 1964, Tanner Heights residents strongly contested the site selection claiming the location at Longs Bottom was much more desirable. The Airport was not here before planning and incurring costs for Hickory Heights.
In 1963, the refusal of property owners to sell the needed acreage at the south end of the airport site was because of their intent to develop a residential subdivision sometimes after Tanner Height's "built out." Such owners were persuaded by the city leaders that the 3,600 feet runway being placed between two creeks would never be extended.
Before the property owners agreed to sell, they requested a sewer line be installed under the runway. The mayor and other public officials agreed but the city could not fund it. These officials encouraged property owners to hire an engineer to design such sewer lines and to pay for required materials; which they did in 1964, approximately one year before the airport was completed.
Myth No. 2: The airport will provide better revenue than homes because aircraft are taxed at a higher rate. Based on public records, the only revenue being generated from the airport is the $300 "lease rent" and the property tax on the 18 aircraft based at Rountree Field.
The total property tax paid on the 18 aircraft last year was $5,305, of which $670 went to the Hartselle General Fund. The average total property tax paid per aircraft was $295, with $37 going to the General Fund. There is no tax on the $400,000 to $500,000 of flight training or on maintenance services performed at the airport or on the hangar rentals.
There are 10 different subdivisions on the north, east and west of the airport. Within 2,000 feet of Rountree Field, there are 320 homes with a true value between $50-$60 million with property taxes between $200,000-$250,000. There are six homes within 200 feet of the airport for which $5,582 of property taxes were paid last year. This is an average of $930 per home, or more than three times that of an average aircraft. In seven of the 10 subdivisions in this area, there are 103 vacant lots. Property taxes on many of these vacant lots ($120, $134, $158, $197, $236) exceed such tax on a number of aircraft ($35, $121, $150, $174, $225).
Writer disagrees with critics
Over the past few weeks, a few individuals have written letters in an attempt to discredit me. My question to all these people is, "You didn't think I would lie down and not defend myself did you?"
Penny Dollar. The next time you write a letter to the editor, first, go and get a Webster's dictionary and look up the word "comprehend." You missed the mark so bad, when you responded to one of my letters, it was absolutely laughable.
Chris Sharpe. Everyone I have talked with, expressed the same thing about your letter. First, it was primarily directed towards me. Second, it was a plea for pity from the public.
Walter Blackman. If you won't dabble in my political convictions, I will not attempt to become a preacher like you. You should be more worried about saints and sinners, your parishioners and not my politics. I don't care if Sonie is your niece and your daughter is a current cheerleader. Your letter of glorifying two people, while crucifying me, was deplorable. I believe there is a scripture, "Judge not, lest you be judged." Everyone should adhere to that, including myself, but you of all people, should practice what you preach.
Once again, I am going to explain some things. Those of you that cannot comprehend what you read, seek some assistance immediately. One, I never once asked or even suggested that Sonie and Martha resign. They did that on their own accord, with no pressure from myself or others. I merely asked a handful of questions, via certified mail, to Dr. Hartsell, about the cheerleader program. They initially resigned, verbally, the next day after Dr. Hartsell's receipt of my letter. The proper question should be directed to Sonie and Martha, "Why did you resign?"
Two. I never questioned Sonie and Martha's ability to teach gymnastics. I'm sure they do the best they can do. Any level would be better than what I could do. I never questioned their ability as cheerleader coaches. I simply stated that there was, in my opinion, a possible conflict of interest, and the manner in which the business was established.
Three. The spontaneous and instantaneous eruption of laughter Mr. Blackman spoke of, was from not-yet-adults (i.e., cheerleaders). Even I expected some respect, known full well I would not get any. I didn't feel the need to pack a room full of supporters to get my point across or defend or support myself. I can stand on my own two feet, all by myself. I am still capable of holding my head up, proudly.
Last thing. I am not perfect by any means. Seems to me, I remember that the only perfect person in this world was crucified and then he arose to take on all our sins and mistakes. I make mistakes and I learn things, material and immaterial, almost every day. Say what you will, think what you like of me, but we live in a society where we can ask questions, without much governmental intrusion or the threat of death or torture. Until that time, I will continue to seek truths and falsehoods about any subject that raises "red flags.," whether a few select people like it or not. So, get over it, already.
This will probably generate some more hate letters pointed at me. To those people I saw "what we have here is a lack of comprehension." Comprehension is the "grasping or ability to understand what we read or observe."