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Paynesville Press - January 1, 2003

Top 12 Stories of 2002: New airport settled

By Michael Jacobson

After more controversy, the proposed new airport for Paynesville seems to be settled.

In March 2002, Pat Meagher, a critic of the current plan, was elected to the Paynesville Township board, replacing Warren Nehring and ending the pro-airport voting majority on the board. By the end of the month, the township had appointed two members to the airport commission who also opposed the current plan for the airport and control of the airport commission was thrown into question, with airport supporters arguing that the at-large member had already been appointed for the year and airport critics arguing that a new at-large member should be appointed.

That controversy was finally settled in August, when the city council voted to end the joint powers agreement with the township and have the city build the airport without the township. The township board agreed to terminate the agreement. In the meantime, with land negotiations stalled, condemnation proceedings were pursued in district court in St. Cloud. The city's eminent domain petition was granted by the court at the end of August 2002, and the city finally owned the necessary land west of town for a new airport. The price for that land, however, has not been determined yet by the court.

With title to the land, though, the city hopes to build the new airport runway in 2003.

(Editor's Note: the Press has identified these 12 stories as the top news in the Paynesville area for 2002. For the top accomplishments in sports, see the 2002 sports review.)

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