Plane to be at Aviation Heritage Center
By Bert Lehman
The Clintonville City Council unanimously approved spending $25,000 for the naming rights of a DC-3 airplane to be on display at the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin in Sheboygan Falls.
The money will come for the city’s tourism funds.
At the council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8, Clintonville City Administrator Chuck Kell told the council that Aviation Heritage Center is in the process of purchasing a DC-3. The cost to purchase the plane, refurbish it, and put it on display at the museum is $180,000.
When talking about Clintonville’s $25,000 pledge, Kell said it was a significant amount of money.
“But I think it’s the way you get the most bang for your dollar in terms of future tourism in Clintonville because this will be on display basically forever at that museum,” Kell said.
The exhibit is to commemorate North Central Airlines, which originated in Clintonville. Kell told the council if it approved the pledge, The North Central Airlines DC-3 would be named, “City of Clintonville.” That distinction will be noted on the front of the DC-3.
Kell said he felt a sponsorship on a window or the back of a seat inside the plane wouldn’t be beneficial to the city.
“The draw of this museum, nationally, for people that will come to it, to learn about North Central Airlines, to learn about the Heritage Museum, it’s going to get a lot of traffic during the EAA Convention, people from all over the world,” Kell said. “The whole idea is to create synergy between that museum and the city.”
The $25,000 pledge amounts to half of the current tourism funds, Kell said.
“It still leaves us with a good amount of money to do other tourism activities,” Kell said.
He added that the tourism money isn’t city property owner tax money.
“These are tourism dollars that are collected by the hotel rooms being rented out to people who stay at our hotels,” Kell said. “They pay room tax over and above their normal night’s stay.”
The pledge would be a one-time pledge. If the purchase and refurbishing of the DC-3 doesn’t take place, the city is not obligated to pay the pledge.
Kell informed the council that the Clintonville Tourism Committee also recommended the council approve the pledge.
Alderman Steve Kettenhoven questioned how purchasing the naming rights of the DC-3 would increase tourism to Clintonville.
Kell said in addition to the DC-3 carrying “City of Clintonville” on it, there will also be a kiosk or display area containing information about the city of Clintonville, near the plane.
“It’s an exterior marketing opportunity for you to get the city exposure to people that are coming from all over the world to go to this museum,” Kell said.
Alderman Brad Rokus acknowledged it was a neat idea, but was also concerned about how this would bring tourism to Clintonville.
“Visitors are the people that are going to stay in motels and go to your businesses,” Kell said.
After more discussion, Kettenhoven asked if a decision on the matter could wait until more information is obtained. He asked if it was possible for the Aviation Heritage Center of Wisconsin to bring the DC-3 to Clintonville once it is refurbished.
“I think the first party that steps forward with the check for the naming rights is going to have their name on the side of that plane,” Kell said. “That could happen tomorrow, or it could take them six months, who knows. But they came to us first to give the city the opportunity because of the history of that airlines starting here.”
Mayor Judy Magee expressed her support for the pledge.
“Anybody who is an aviation enthusiast will be here for this DC-3. It’s that popular,” Magee said. “W.A. Olen, who was the president and owner of the FWD Corporation, the gentleman who started the airline, so he could fly sales reps in from all the other states to come to Clintonville to look at our fire truck production. That’s when the airline started. We just need to remember that. It was here, and it was through his efforts.”
Alderwoman Gloria Dunlavy added, “I think if we have the opportunity to try to keep Clintonville on the map a little bit I think we really should jump for it.”
Prior to voting, Rokus told the council if it agrees to pledge $25,000 for the naming rights of the DC-3, it should be willing to spend more money in the future if the opportunity arises for the DC-3 to be brought to Clintonville.