The Modesto Bee Kevin Valine column [The Modesto Bee :: ]
(Modesto Bee (CA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Feb. 07--It looks as though the community is not interested in being able to fly nonstop to and from the Modesto and Los Angeles International airports.
Modesto's airport consultant is wrapping up the fourth week of a seven-week campaign to collect $1 million in pledges that a major carrier has asked for before starting passenger service between Modesto and Los Angeles.
The result? The consultant has collected $150,000 and needs to collect $850,000 before the campaign ends Feb. 28.
"Major Modesto companies like American Chevrolet and Foster Farms have already pledged, but we're not there yet," said Katie Jones, marketing and public relations manager for Sixel Consulting Group, the city's consultant. "We need companies of all sizes to pledge what they could spend flying to or through LA in one year."
Jones' successes include a $10,000 pledge from the DoubleTree Hotel. She is speaking to businesses and groups throughout the county.
Sixel officials have said a major carrier would start the flights if the $1 million is reached, with flights starting as soon as this summer. The pledges are not binding but would show the carrier there is a demand for the service.
SkyWest Airlines provides the only regularly scheduled commercial flights at Modesto Airport -- three daily flights to San Francisco. Those flights often are delayed at San Francisco International Airport, causing Modesto travelers to miss their connecting flights.
Donations to the local chapter of Make-A-Wish also are being counted in the pledge drive. The donations will be used to buy airline tickets for children whose wishes are granted.
For more information on the campaign or to make a pledge, visit www.destinationlax.com.
Mayor Garrad Marsh's annual State of the City address is Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in Tenth Street Place's basement chambers.
The last four addresses have been held at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon at Modesto Centre Plaza. Tickets have cost $40, but people wishing only to hear the mayor could attend at no cost. Marsh said he decided to speak in the evening so people who cannot take time off for the luncheon can have the opportunity to hear him.
Marsh said he expects to talk about the fallout of Measure X's failure and the city's successes in water and wastewater.
Measure X is the 1 cent sales tax that did not pass in the November election. The tax was expected to bring in $26 million annually over its six-year life for the city's general fund. The city planned to spend half of the tax on public safety and the rest on building up its financial reserves, on parks and other projects.
The city is bracing to cut about $9 million from its roughly $110 million general fund over 21/2 years.
Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2316.
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