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Brasher plane project may cost $75,000, organizers say

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BRASHER FALLS - Three Brasher men who hope to land a Vietnam-era plane display across from the town’s municipal building anticipate it will cost them about $75,000 for the project, which would include the purchase and relocation of the plane.

“Our goal is $75,000. We feel the figure we’re looking at is what we’re going to have to have. I know it seems like a lot of money. We don’t really know yet what we’re going to come across,” said James Kelly, who along with Gene Cummings and David MacMillan hopes to sit an A-4 Skyhawk on the banks of the St. Regis River as a tribute to area veterans.

They plan to work with Munson “Sid” Snedeker, another Brasher Falls native and 1954 graduate of Massena High School who spent a career in the U.S. Marine Corps before retiring as a lieutenant colonel in October 1981.

Mr. Snedeker and his wife, Ginger, own and operate G&S Warbirds, which can help individuals or groups locate planes and help find someone to ferry them to another location.

“We’re moving forward on our project. We’ve covered a lot of ground the last month. We’ve seen a lot of people and had a lot of advice. We’ve talked about funding and our budget,” Mr. Kelly told Brasher Town Board members this week.

He, Mr. Cummings and Mr. MacMillan had approached the board in August with their plans for the “Bringing the A-4 Home” project and asked for their approval to move forward with the endeavor. They received approval this week from board members who said they supported the endeavor.

“I think it’s a fantastic project. I see no problem with it,” Supervisor M. James Dawson said, pledging financial support for the project if the town began receiving casino gaming compact funds again.

“If, with a capital I, casino funds come through again, I’m hoping we can offer financial assistance,” he said.

He said he believed the location would be ideal for a display like that.

“I like that idea. I think it will make a great tourist attraction,” Mr. Dawson said.

Mr. Kelly said they have talked to local military organizations, including Amvets Post 4, American Legion Post 79 and VFW Post 1143 in Massena about supporting the project. They plan to meet with the American Legion in Winthrop on Monday, he said.

“We’re hoping to work with them because we’d like to be sponsored by a military organization. We’re hoping the legion in Winthrop,” he said.

In addition to talking with the military organizations, Mr. Kelly said they have also lined up financial advisors with Pinto Mucenski Hooper VanHouse and Co. PC in Potsdam and legal advisors with Pease and Gustafson in Massena.

They’ve also talked with Allen Fukes, president of the Tri-Town Chamber of Commerce.

“We’re going to need their help in a big way if we can get your approval to start the drive,” Mr. Kelly said.

He said they’ve also discussed the project with other supervisors in the Tri-Town region.

“We emphasized this is a Tri-Town project,” he said.

Mr. Kelly said he would also like to get engineering students from Clarkson to assist with issues such as ensuring they have the proper pedestal for the weight and dimensions of the craft.

“They’re interested in helping us,” he said.

The project will hinge on obtaining the necessary funding, and Mr. Kelly said they already have $5,000 in an account with Pease and Gustafson.

“We won’t buy the plane until we know we’ve got the funding,” he said.

If they can become sponsored by a military organization, he said they have a “good chance” of allowing personal contributions to be tax deductible.

“If we can’t be sponsored by a military organization and get the deduction we can still go with them or work with the chamber of commerce,” he said.

They plan to obtain an A-4 Skyhawk, which was a carrier-capable ground-attack aircraft developed for the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. It was capable of delivering nuclear weapons using a low altitude bombing system and played a key role in the Vietnam War.

They chose that plane because of its smaller size, the men said.

The plane would be dismantled at its point of origin, shipped in a truck and then readied by the men for display in the town. It would have no engine and weighs between 6,000 and 10,000 pounds. They would need an area large enough to cover its overall length of 36 feet.

Mr. MacMillan said he already has a contractor lined up to set the pedestal at no cost to the men.

“It’s top quality concrete,” he said. “He was willing to do it no matter what the cost.”

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