The Hermiston City Council at its meeting Monday night, Sept. 27, voted 7-0 in favor of a new 20-year ground lease at the Hermiston Municipal Airport.

K2 Aerial Application LLC has been operating from the airport for at least five years and is looking to build a hangar covering 8,352 square feet. City Manager Byron Smith explained to the council the lease facilitates that project.

Under the terms of the lease, according to meeting documents, the city receives $1,420 per year through 2028 for the ground the hangar will stand on, and the rent increases to $1,587 per year for 2035-38. The total for the 20 years comes to $29,482.

Smith told the council the length and price per square foot of the lease are consistent with other ground leases at the airport.

Smith also gave an update on filling the key city department heads. He said the city has received 10 applications for the parks and recreation director and court administrator. The closing date for applications looks to be the end of the week, but that could extend 15 days beyond to allow for more candidates.

At last count, Smith said, the city received four applicants for the court administrator and 10 for the parks director.

The council also brought in cupcakes to celebrate the retirement of Gary Luisi as city attorney. His successor, Richard Tovey, starts this week.

There were some sparks early in the meeting, when the council took in a presentation on the Restaurant Assistance Program, a partnership between the city and the Hermiston Chamber of Commerce, to encourage dining at local restaurants.

The city early in 2021 gave the chamber $50,000 for an assistance program to benefit local restaurants struggling because of the pandemic. The chamber created three programs: Dining Dollars, in which restaurants honor a $10 gift certificate and submit that to the chamber of reimbursement; a direct $10 gift certificate diners can use at a restaurant; and a third option in which chamber directors use $10 in cash to cover a diner’s meal at an event.

Chamber President Kris Bennett walked the council through the details of the programs, including examples of the coupons and gift cards and English and Spanish promotional flyers. Some of the Spanish language drew criticism from Councilor Roy Barron.

“Some of the wording … It’s wrong,” Barron told Bennett, “and it might convey a swear word.”

Bennett defended the wording, explaining the chamber relied on the work of a certified Spanish translator. But Barron suggested the chamber needs to take a second look at some of the language.

Bennett replied the chamber will “run it by” the translator, and if Barron wanted he could come to the chamber to go through the wording with him.

“That’s kind of what I‘m doing now,” Barron replied.

Mayor Dave Droztmann moved on, and said he was excited for the program and hoped the community recognizes the importance of supporting local businesses.

Barron then came back to his point with a suggestion for the language he found problematic. Bennett said he was welcome to give those to the chamber office. And Councilor Phillip Spicerkuhn, who serves on the chamber board, said he would take Barron’s suggestions to the chamber.

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