Lohman Helicopter looks for place to land, Lewiston Tribune, Sept. 14, 2017

Port of Lewiston delays decision on selling company small parcel

By ELAINE WILLIAMS of the Tribune 

Lohman Helicopter continued its quest to find a new home Wednesday, making an offer to buy 3.23 acres near the former EKO Compost site.

Lewiston port commissioners tabled the $266,475 proposal after raising concerns about noise from flights and the loss of potential rental income from the land in the Harry Wall Industrial Park at the base of the Lewiston Hill.

“I personally want a little bit more time to review this,” Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl said.

Lohman Helicopter is shopping for a site after its attempt to expand failed at the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport. It retains a hangar and leased headquarters there, but the company has moved some functions to California, where much of its work is done.

The company wants to keep its headquarters in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley, where it repairs and paints its own aircraft, with enough room to perform those services for other companies once it gets Federal Aviation Administration approval, said CEO Christine Lohman.

Lohman Helicopter leadership wants to construct two 10,000-square-foot buildings. The number of flights leaving the headquarters would be exceedingly small, Lohman said, since the bulk of the work the company does stringing utility lines and fighting fires is in other parts of the country.

The approach and departure paths the helicopters use would be over the river to limit noise and loss of life if an accident happened, Lohman said.

Predicting the volume of activity Lohman Helicopter would have in the future is difficult because the company’s president, Morgan Lohman, is ambitious, said Commission President Mike Thomason.

“It could be a lot more at some point in time,” he said.

The Port of Lewiston property isn’t the only location that Lohman Helicopter is considering. The Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport is a possibility as well as sites in Oregon at Redmond, Prineville or Bend, Christine Lohman said.

In other business, commissioners:

– Heard an update about plans to uproot an encampment of four to seven homeless people in a ravine north of the LC Ice Arena. A backhoe will pull out trees and other vegetation that provide shelter on Nov. 13. About five days before that, the possessions of those inhabiting the spot will be removed, said Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.

Police will be present both times for the safety of camp residents, port employees and a contractor hired to help. Possessions gathered by the port will be kept so they can be claimed by the owners. A notice of what is going to happen will be posted by the camp in early November. A port employee already has tried to tell as many of the camp residents as possible about the plans.

– Learned that the port’s rail lines need $46,000 in repairs, compared with the $15,000 budgeted for that expense this year. A 60-foot bridge over a stormwater pond next to the city of Lewiston sewer plant needs to be fixed, which will require a five-day system shutdown.

Other parts of the rail system need maintenance, such as the replacement of 96 ties, which will also shut the rail lines down for about five days, Doeringsfeld said.

The system serves a number of port tenants, transporting dried peas and lentils, steel for recycling and magnesium chloride for dust control and de-icing roads.

Williams may be contacted at [email protected] or (208) 848-2261.