By KARLA POMEROY
The Big Horn County commissioners voted last Tuesday, Jan. 4, to suspend the Russell Hangar lease payments for B&G Industries at the South Big Horn County Airport.
The commissioners, following a meeting with B&G Industries president Karl Bertagnole and County Airports Manager Carl Meyer, approved the unanimous motion to suspend the required lease payments for six months. B&G Industries is current on their payments.
Meyer told the commissioners that as airports manager it is his responsibility and obligation to review the committed business partner relationship with B&G and make adjustments
“Shared risks and shared rewards are key part of that partnership,” he said.
Meyer presented the proposal to the commissioners to suspend the lease payments for six months. Last month Commissioner Keith Grant had noted that B&G was struggling after some defense contracts were not providing as much work as originally planned.
Grant said the county is fortunate to have B&G. He said B&G stepped up to make the Russell Hangar project possible.
“Karl’s gone out of his way to make it successful. It’s not his fault things have not turned out the way we planned. It’s been good for the county.”
Bertanogle, who expressed his appreciation for Grant’s comments, said, “Our world has changed. We can’t begin to express the challenges we face. We keep pressing on to find contracts. We can only hope the climate improves.”
He said the work is drying up with the ending of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, changes in the Department of Defense and the funding sequestration.
Bertagnole said they have had discussions about opportunities for work but need to turn them into actual contracts.
In voting for the motion, Chairman Jerry Ewen said, “I also support this. This is our shared burden and it’s something the county can do to help your business during challenging times.”
Meyer said the annual loan payment due to the state of Wyoming has already been made for the year so suspending B&G payments will not hinder the county’s ability to keep up with those payments.