Mix-up throws aerial applicator loop de loop


“We’re in good standing; we’re up and running; we’re legal,” said Kevin Hefley, owner-operator of Airtime Aerial, a company that performs aerial applications of insecticides. Hefley was presenting at an August 16 meeting of the Saratoga Town Council to explain why unfiled paperwork with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had left the town without an applicator for much of the summer.

At the meeting, which was attended by about 10 members of the public, Hefley repeatedly distanced himself from Circle S Aviation, a company Hefley purchased from Steve Peiffer April 20. “Circle S has some issues. We are completely separate from Circle S Aviation at this point,” Hefley said describing his current relationship with the company.

Hefley’s said his purchase of Circle S went through after Circle S had already won a bid to perform aerial mosquito spraying over Saratoga for summer of 2016. Though he would be doing the spraying, Hefley said “We asked Circle S to continue doing the office part of (the Saratoga contract) ‘til we got up to speed.” Not all of this office work got done.

In July, the FAA informed Hefley that it had not received a congested area flight plan from Circle S. These plans are required for crop-dusting planes such as those used for insecticide application, because these planes usually release their insecticide from about 100 feet up–lower than FAA guidelines normally permit.

“I think what happened was, in some kind of haste, things in those flight plans got missed,” Hefley said. “I feel bad that we didn’t check on the validity of some of this stuff–we just went on good faith,” he continued.

Though Hefley completed two full applications over Saratoga before the FAA told him to stop, he will not be able to make any more applications this year while the FAA sorts out the paperwork.

Per the contract, Hefley was paid for the first two applications he made, but the bureaucratic misfire will cost him the opportunity to make any more money spraying in Saratoga this year. Hefley’s contracts spraying for other towns have not been affected. “It’s unfortunate that we can’t fulfill the contract that we inherited from Circle S Aviation for Saratoga,” Hefley said.

Hefley said he would like to spray for Saratoga next year and will likely start the process of applying for a congested area flight plan in January. Though, Hefley raised the possibility of litigation at the town council meeting, on Aug. 19 he said definitively “We are not in litigation.” Peiffer, of Circle S, had no comment on the matter.

Another guest-presenter at the town council meeting was newly hired Carbon County Library System (CCLS) Director Jacob Mickelson. Mickelson attended to give the council an update on library happenings in the aftermath of deep budget cuts to the system.

The director told the council members that the budget cuts had resulted in a loss of 10 open hours per week for the Saratoga branch library. One step the CCLS had taken to offset these budget cuts, Mickelson said, was to set up separate accounts for each library in the system, so that would-be donors could be assured their funds were going specifically to the branch of their choice.

Mickelson said it would cost the Town of Saratoga about $2,600 to keep the library open for an additional two hours per week, or 28 hours from its current 26. “We’ve got lots of endowment money out there for stuff–we just don’t have money for staff,” Mickelsen summed up. Council member Will Faust said it “Sounds like a good deal.”

From the Water and Sewer Department, Saratoga Public Works Director Jon Winter provided the council with a summary of a meeting he had with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) August 11. At that meeting, Winter said the EPA stressed that air vents on top of the town’s water towers must be retrofitted with finer vents to meet new requirements. Winter said that the EPA told him that the retrofitting can be done next year during a scheduled cleaning, however, so that a work crew will only have to go on top of the towers once.

Acting Chief of Police Robert Bifano asked and received permission from the council to switch from Absolute Solutions back to Ryan Electronics for contracted radio services. Ryan provided better service, Bifano said, and was more cost effective since Ryan doesn’t charge for mileage.

A final piece of housekeeping for the council was the formal signing of a “quit claim deed” for an ambulance barn in Saratoga. The signature of the quit claim was the last part of a deal that had provided Saratoga with a couple years of free ambulance service in exchange for the Town signing over the control of the ambulance barn property to South Central Wyoming Emergency Medical Services (SCWEMS).

The next Saratoga Town Council Meeting will be held 6 p.m. Sept. 6 at the town hall.


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