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Commissioner's private plane used for 8 minute trip?

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Photo: Video by fox4now.com

Commissioner's private plane used for 8 minute trip?

By Matt Grant. CREATED Apr 17, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The Lee County Commissioner's private plane, which has been a source of controversy, recently flew to a city eight minutes away by air, Fox 4 has learned.

Lee County gained control of a propeller plane in a drug raid nearly 20 years ago. Since then, it's been used to shuttle commissioners and staff to meetings and events around the state.

"I think there are other ways to provide transportation," said Commissioner Larry Kiker.

Kiker thinks the cost of running the plane - $85,000 a year - is too steep. The majority of the other commissioners disagree and are keep the propellers spinning.

Fox 4 checked to see where the plane's been flying. According to flightaware.com the plane flew to Labelle which is eight minutes away. There were also two round trips to Tallahassee in 48 hours, a flight to Hollywood, Fla. all in the past two weeks.
 
Fox 4 reached out to the county and Port Authority.

"We're looking at the Flight Aware Web site," said Fox 4 reporter Warren Wright. "And we're just trying to figure out why the plane went to Labelle."

No one had an answer and said they would get back to us.

In the meantime, Fox 4 asked around and talked to commissioners and concerned citizens who attend commissioner meetings on a regular basis.

"I think people really want to make sure that we're spending every single penny and every single nickel in the the very best way we can," said community activist Paige Raush. "Because the money just isn't there like it has been in times past."

Kiker is also waiting to find out why the plane went to Labelle, along with the other flights for the past few weeks.

"It was a 3-2 vote to keep the plane at that point and time," said Kiker. "And, so, since I voted against it I won't be bringing it back up again. But I certainly hope someone does."

The county and Port Authority did not return our calls Wednesday regarding the eight minute flight to Labelle.

Fox 4 asked if it was maintenance, or an emergency landing, but couldn't get any confirmation.

Warren Wright
wwright@jrn.com