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Stephenville council awaits airport transfer

Stephenville Town Council – file photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

STEPHENVILLE — The most recent council meeting took place on Thursday evening, Mar. 23 and matters discussed included the timeline for the airport transfer, and updates from Western Health.

Airport Councillor Lenny Tiller, under the matter of unfinished business, asked for clarification on when the deed transfer would be completed because, as discussed at the previous meeting of council, the agreement of the Town to pay of $32,500 per month to the Stephenville Airport Corporation (SAC) was approved with a 30-day-out clause in which the Town can apply to opt out of the agreement. “April 12 is still the discharge date, so 21 days after that would be May 3, so by May 3, that’s when the purchaser should own the airport, correct?” “I think the terms of the agreement are that the purchaser has up to 21 days, but it could happen in 24 hours,” replied Mayor Tom Rose. “Okay, so let’s say, all in all it takes 21 days to close, so May 3, so by April 3 we should be submitting our 30 day out notice, because that would be 30 days from the final day in which the purchaser would technically own the airport,” said Tiller. “That’s something to be cognizant of because we don’t meet any more now until April 6.” “I think, when there is a major urgency, a special meeting is called,” said Rose. “I think, because this file has been ongoing for 20 years, the airport file, and it’s finally going to come off the requirements of the taxpayers of the community, we’ve been briefed by the airport authority there’s a term of sale and also briefed that the bankruptcy at the airport will be in front of a judge to be lifted on April 12, to allow the transfer to happen. That’s still with the lawyers. That’s still a moving target, so it’s very difficult for us to deal with it now because we have dealt with it at the last meeting.” “I do agree,” said Tiller. “It’s just we do have to make sure we make a minimal amount of $32,500 payments as we can because we don’t have it.” “Remember, this is a decision of council,” said Rose. “Every decision we make has to take the form of being added to an agenda, debated, discussed, and voted on, to make any decisions. It was something that was already dealt with at a public meeting, so this would be something more conducive to be tabled for discussion at a finance meeting.” Coun. Tristan Hulan also spoke about the airport transfer. “I believe that, the way that deal is structured, is that once the deal executes, that is considered the notice of termination, if I read correctly. So when that changes hands, there would be no more payments. We can look into it, but I’m pretty sure that, once you have a legal name change on it, that agreement states it’s the termination of funds.” “I think the big thing here is that it is going to be looked at by lawyers on both sides. That’s in their hands, outside of our hands. All we were is the catalyst that kept the airport going for this to happen, just like councillors before us,” added Rose. Western Health Coun. Laura Aylward said she has been in contact with the former Interim CEO of Western Health, Michelle House. “She is telling me that, as of April 1, Western Health will transfer to the new provincial health authority and the senior executive team for the new authority has been named, and is pleased that several leaders from the Western region will be part of that team,” said Aylward. “She goes on to say that they’ve continued to work with the Department of Health and Community Services to assess staffing shortages.” In the email, House also discussed ongoing recruitment and retention strategies for new healthcare staff, including:

  1. Continuing to work hard to recruit for the vacant and difficult to fill positions

  2. Recently hired into the Occupational Therapist II position at LeGrow Health Centre, a position that has been vacant for two years.

  3. Hired a new respiratory therapist, another area that has been difficult to fill. Both will begin upon their respective graduation dates.

  4. Better success in retaining employees, especially in rural areas, when they are originally from the area and there is ongoing work to attract healthcare professionals with a connection to the region.

  5. Promoting a positive work environment to those who complete student placements to increase their interest upon graduation.

  6. Recruitment for healthcare professionals is underway in Ireland and India.

“Some people don’t even realize the things that we’ve done, even from our own Sir Thomas Roddick Hospital over the years,” said Aylward. “Like paying for the rental car for a surgeon who was here for several years. We always try our best, at our hospital especially, to entice people to stay here.”

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