Morris City Manager Blaine Hill came before the Stevens County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to get approval for the next step of the Morris Municipal Airport runway extension project. He was asking the board for a Quitclaim Deed, a legal formality that would have the county surrender its mineral rights on the piece of land needed for the runway. But while Hill thought this would be a quick slam-dunk presentation, he encountered pushback from Commissioner Ron Staples.
“I’ll vote for this when you guys say you’ll help pay for putting water to the highway garage,” said Staples. “We got forced to take over your emergency management, got nothing for that. Took over the HRA from the City, which cost the County taxpayers more than it used to, ’cause it’s funded more by the agriculture now than it used to be. So, the City of Morris is just, I don’t know, in my opinion they’ve been taking the County for dollars over…”
“We are part of the County!” Hill protested.
Hill explained that negotiations for water to any new highway facility can be ongoing, but should be completely separate from the airport project.
“This a very important project to the City of Morris and Stevens County, this airport extension,” said Hill. “The idea that you would hold off giving up a mineral right that you never have had any intention of utilizing — and you have no intention of utilizing in the future — just on principle. I don’t understand it.”
In the end, the Commissioners did approve the Quitclaim Deed unanimously, and the airport project will move on to jump its next hurdle.