by Johannes Brann

At its regular, but brief meeting on March 21, the Northeast Vernon County (NEVC) R-1 School Board reviewed bills and payments as well as heard reports from the district’s two principals and the Superintendent; approval of the helipad was the only “new business” on the agenda.

Said Doug Vantellman, Assistant Chief of the Schell City Volunteer Fire Department, “I’m here this evening to ask your approval for the installation of a helicopter landing pad and lights, dead west of the elementary school’s cafeteria on the flat.”

He explained that upon approval, MedFlight of Joplin will be scheduled for a site visit and then draw up the plans; he estimated an either 30’X30’ or 40’X40’ pad with underground electrical and green/amber lights which point straight up into the sky, along with a concrete access-way from the road to the pad. The lights will be flush to the ground with wire mesh covers so a mower may run over them; they will only be turned on when needed and controlled from a breaker, set on a pole.

Vantellman gave a cost estimate of $3,000-$4,000 which—thanks to a generous gift from Schell City Betterment—will be borne by the fire department. He said work would begin after school is out in May, with a completion goal of July 4.

“And if there’s any noticeable increase the school’s electric bill, we’ll gladly pay that,” said Vantellman. “This has been a real need for some time and we think it will not just help us but will reduce response time and save lives for the people of this area.”

With board member Deland Prough being absent, the board first commended the department for this project and then voted 6-0 to approve a motion granting the request.

Also on hand at this meeting was board candidate Trish Bailey who said with a laugh, “I wanted to see first-hand just what I am getting myself into.” With the number of candidates equaling the number of open seats, the district will not have to hold an election; on election-day, April 2, they will be considered to be elected.

State law requires school boards to conduct a special meeting for certification of school board election results as well as reorganization of the board. Such a meeting must be held after the County Clerk’s formal certification of the election results at noon on the Friday following the election yet such a session must be held within one-week of the election. After some discussion, the board adopted a motion for its required meeting to be held on Monday, April 8 at 4:30 p.m. with the regular meeting set for 7 a.m. on April 19.