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Response to letter sent to the Observer
from Margaret Foss and group
printed in the October 12/25, 2023


The Friends Group is responding the letter sent to the Observer from Margaret Foss and group printed in the October 12/25. 2023. At that time we submitted this to the Observer and were told that the Observer wouldn’t print this because of the length of the rebuttal. Instead of further editing the response we decided to place it on our website.

First, I’d like to point out that I have supplied corrections to Margaret’s Petition group since it was formed to foster opposition to the airport. At my own expense, I flew Margaret to Ephraim and back to Washington Island so she could see firsthand some of the issues at the airport that are impacting safety for people on the ground as well as in the air at the Washington Island airport.   

As I communicated and corrected some of the false narrative put out by the petition group it became apparent to me that the petition group didn’t have an interest in correcting the misinformation in their narrative.  As I and others pointed out the many misconceptions in writing to Margaret, I asked that she do some of her own technical research, so she wasn’t relying on me. By doing this she could check the accuracy of my well researched items. When I did this, I was told by Margaret to no longer communicate with her on airport issues.  I expressed my concern that we need to be having more effective communication, not ending communications. Here is an excerpt from that email.   “I responded here on this string to Mr. Saxton, believing it was my responsibility as a Town Board member, and because Mr. Saxton had mentioned me specifically.  However, last night it became clear to me that other members of the board are weary of these back-and-forth communications.  I even heard the words "tit for tat."  What this indicates to me is that this communication needs to end now.” 
I have honored her request but find it strange that this happened as we were trying to set the record straight on misconceptions communicated to the general population by the petition group. Margaret has painted herself into a corner running for a town board position on the platform of limiting what should happen to the airport. All of us need to strive to keep the Airport viable.

I do think that some members of the Petition group have an agenda to severely limit airport activities or close the airport all together.  I have asked for exactly what was discussed with people while the Petition Group was trying to get people to sign their petition. We have never been provided those items. We found that some people that had signed the Petition were given inaccurate information which is why we decided to respond. Many of the Friends of The Washington Island Airport members and Airport Committee Members have been asked about comments made about the airport which have no basis in fact.  As we continue to ask questions about the petition itself it is now viewed as Civil Discourse? Amazing. We have put plenty of examples of comments made that were untrue on our Friends Website and letters to the Editor of the Washington Island Observer. In no way do we impugn the honesty, integrity, or motives of the petition group.  We are just calling out what we see that is incorrect to set the record straight with honest comments. Again, you can read the truth in our full page add in this issue of the Observer. You can go to the website at www.Fly2P2.Org or ask anyone who is educated on airport operations and the Washington Island Airport to see the necessary corrections.

Regarding threatening the Town Board.  Ms. Foss has tried unsuccessfully to get Chairman Lux to pull items off the petitions after the petition was approved and has been hounding him ever since. She reminded Chairman Lux at a recent board meeting that people that signed the petition voted for him and they wouldn’t be happy with him if the petition was put forth as it was approved. She indicated that people would remember this in the next election.  To me, that seems like a threat, but you can make your own judgement on that. In my opinion, Chairman Lux has done more good things for this community than most people understand, and we hope he will continue to do so.

The Ephraim airport has been saving money for runway and airport improvements all along.  They have a fund formed which airport improvements will be paid for following their master plan which is what The Washington Island Airport Committee has been trying to accomplish. They have also had private citizens pay for some improvements. The figures stated in the letter are inaccurate. The Feds pay 80%, the State pays 15% and the town 5% unless they exercise some other type of funding where they could pay zero. The money is already in their fund. So, the taxpayers aren’t going to have to come up with an additional $200,000.00 as was stated in her letter to the editor. Trying to scare the citizens of Washington Island into believing that they will have an ongoing large tax bill down the road into “Perpetuity” by comparing Ephraim to Washington Island is inaccurate. However. the Washington Island airport always has the obligation to maintain the airport because it has taken Federal Funds just like Ephriam and most airports across the states. It is not new news that the Washington Island Airport cost the Town nothing and we know we can keep it that way.

Pilots and others fundraise for projects that they believe in.  Projects like the TPAC, Rec Center, Float the Boat and others both large and small have been paid for by donations from Pilots and others interested in the overall wellbeing of this wonderful community. I have stated several times that any projects considered at the Washington Island Airport can be funded this way, so proposed projects would not cost the Town a penny.  This can be controlled by the Town Board to make sure that we complete a project this way. Again, the petition group doesn’t want to believe this but that is done all over the state as the Bureau of Aeronautics has confirmed.

Paving a runway would be a long way off and would take considerable advanced planning which is what the Master Plan is for. We know that a paved runway is safer than landing on grass. The insurance companies will tell you this. A paved runway will allow some aircraft that are reluctant or prohibited to land on grass for insurance or safety reasons the ability to land and spend money at our businesses on the Island. Utility of the airport will improve. So, pavement will have a positive impact on tourism on Washington Island. I have talked with several Pilots that have said that they would come here given a paved runway. I have seen that result at airports that have a paved runway and rely on tourism as Washington Island does. I have started working on an economic impact study to prove out our theory to the nay-sayers and to show just what the current operations at Washington Island Airport contribute economically to the Town Of Washington. Stay tuned for that.

Most Island Pilots would like to see a paved runway for the reason stated sand they would like to see a Welcome Center that would show off the airport and the Island in a positive light. One would have to admit that the current set up with basically an outhouse is less than flattering. A Welcome Center building could also be used by the public for meetings as well.

We believe that Margaret Foss has the best interest of Washington Island in her heart. On the airport, I believe she has it wrong. I am hopeful that she and others will continue to educate themselves on what a great asset that the Washington Island Airport is and should be into the future. Margaret, anytime you want to reopen the lines of communications with me, lunch will be on me!

I have been tasked with helping the airport survive and thrive into the future and will continue to-do so.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mike Saxton
Washington Island Airport Committee
Friends of Washington Island Member
Washington Island EAA Chapter 982 Member




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