The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

February 2, 2013

New transit director up for approval

Naval Air Station up for recommendation for the National Register of Historic Places

OTTUMWA — Ottumwa Transit could have a new director next week.

The Ottumwa City Council will vote to approve Dave Silverio as the new director of Ottumwa Transit at its meeting Tuesday night. If approved, the position will take effect Wednesday.

Silverio has served as the operations manager for Ottumwa Transit since January 2012.

City Attorney and Human Resources Manager Joni Keith said the hiring process was a “very thoughtful deliberation by the eight individuals present during all of the interviews.”

Four candidates made it to the round of interviews on Jan. 25.

“It was a very difficult decision because we had four very well-qualified individuals,” Keith said. “The deciding factor was our 10-15 [Transit] Board of Directors had worked with Dave for the entire year and felt very comfortable with him and were very impressed with him.”

Keith described the interview process as thoughtful, respectful and considerate.

Silverio refused to comment on the issue on Friday.

Naval Air Station

The council will also vote to approve the CLG National Register Review with the recommendation that the Administration Building of the former U.S. Naval Air Station is eligible to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Construction on the NAS Ottumwa complex began in 1942, consisting of 65 buildings, though only 14 remain today. The entire complex cannot be nominated for the register due to the large number of buildings that were demolished, therefore only the Administration Building has been nominated.

The NAS was used as a training base for Navy pilots during World War II to help in the additional training of a growing number of military personnel.

The nomination papers, prepared by local historian Molly Naumann, tell the story of NAS Ottumwa for 58 pages.

“At the height of the base operation, as many as 300 airplanes could be in the air at one time, taking off and landing six to eight abreast on the large landing mats,” according to “Carrier on the Prairie: The Story of the U.S. Naval Air Station Ottumwa, Iowa,” by E. M. Cofer.

There were between 3,200 and 3,500 people on the base at any one time, according to Naumann’s research.

While the base’s focus was training pilots, in May 1944 a flood struck Ottumwa, putting war on the back burner, and all at NAS “turned to in an effort to save civilian lives and property,” according to “Station History,” written by the 1945 base commander Capt. K.B. Salisbury.

Salisbury wrote that in the nearly three years NAS Ottumwa functioned as a training facility, 6,656 cadets and officer trainees logged 397,214 training flights, an average of 1,000 flying hours per day.

“The last Navy plane left the station on October 2, 1947,” Naumann wrote.

Since then, the city has obtained ownership of the land, and it now functions as the Ottumwa Regional Airport, as well as Indian Hills Community College’s technical training programs. The land also houses Job Corps.

Friends of NAS Ottumwa formed in 2011 to buy the building from the city in order to recreate it according to its original plans in order to become an Air and Aerospace Museum.

The council will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at City Hall to review the city’s 2013-14 budget. Following the discussion, the council will reconvene at 6:30 p.m. for the regular meeting. The meeting will air live on GO-TV, cable channel 6.

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