We now have many new members not familiar as to how this all came about. We will try to give you all some idea as to how it all started.
Our club was started by advertising one simple display ad in a small weekly newspaper in Inverness back in the early 80's. I felt we should have an R/C club in the area. Being new to this area made it a bit more difficult so I started asking questions. I had a display ad set up and published. I merely asked the general public. Anyone interested in Radio Control Planes and Boats give me a call. I was informed by some local people this would not work. It has been tried before, I could not believe or accept this negative attitude. Received about four calls, almost immediately. We arranged to meet at one of the caller's homes. This was it! From here on out it was not a breeze, but we had a small group interested. This was the start of it all. This club is in its 15th year, we are incorporated as a "not for profit corporation." We started as the Citrus County R/C Club and we still maintain this name as our corporate name but not as our operating name. We now have a dba "Tri-County R/C Club." *(Explained at the end.)
We have had approximately four flying sites. One for as short as one week, others from a few months to a few years. The last, prior to the one we have now we had for several years, possibly eight years, plus or minus. We now have a 76 acre flying site, located in the City of Dunnellon, Marion County, State of Florida. This site was secured only after approximately three plus years of hounding the powers that be, by myself and Don Adkins, Ted Hessler, Doug Hummer a few of our present members. Our final acceptance was July 1, 1998. From this day forward we have worked like there is no tommorrow, physical labor and plenty of cash invested. There was talk about possibly getting the field rent free, this would have been to much to ask. I will continue explaining exaclty how we went about it.
At our last field we had about ten acres, with a herd of cows which kept the field well ferilized. We would begin each mornings flying sessions by first cleaning up, from then on it was a breeze. We paid $100.00 per month, did our own maintenance etc. This field was located in Lecanto, FL. I might add it is still being used as a flying site by a few members who elected to stay there because it was closer to home. I believe they are paying a bit less than we were paying.
I started the process by writing many letters to the Citrus County Department of Recreation. We were well received, had several discussions over a period of about two years. After all was said and done we were given some 40 acres for our use. However, there were several strings attached to it. We were asked to make a considerable investment with no guarantees that we would have this field for any reasonable length of time. The Citrus County director of recreation came to one of our meetings to give us the scoop. We then took a vote, decided not to accept their offer, it just wasn't worth the cost.
Ater this we just continued to seek out the local as well as the national politicians, those that were from our area. We contacted our local Congresswoman, Mrs.Karen Thurman. She did check things out on a Federal level, but couldn't find any available land that was under Federal Legislature. I followed this up with a series of letters to our local legislators, that is those from our immediate area. We also attended any meetings that were available concerning the individual legislator, such as any coffee cloches around election time.
One of these parties did bear fruit, it was suggested we contact Mr. Fred Ayer, Director of the Office of Greenways and Trails. They also gave him our club name along with my name. One fine day I did receive a letter informing me, they had been contacted and would do all possible to be of some help. I called Mr. Fred Ayers, Director, and confirmed our needs and what we would like to have. He listened and promised to look in to it.
In the meantime I would call or write, I would say about once a month. This went on for approximately eighteen months. The Greenways and Trails agency is in charge of thousands of acres within the State of Florida, this land is to be used exclusively for recreation and only for recreation, that's where we come in. Our club offers a great form of recreation, this makes us eligible.
One day I recieved a call, asking if we could meet with two of their representatives so we could look over some sites they had in mind. I called Don Adkins, asked if he would be interested in working on this with me, (he volunteered) and we both met with state representatives. They had two sites in mind. One within Citrus County and the other in Marion County.. We would have liked to stay in Citrus County but the site wasn't that great. We were then shown a beautiful piece of land, some 100 plus acres in Marion County. Somewhat further away than we had hoped, but only 4-6 miles. The possibilities were far beyond our wildest dreams and so much more than we had expected. We were asked how much of this land we would want or need, we wanted it all. Not possible!!! After all was said and done we made our choice in Marion County. The parcel is approximately 2400 feet in a Southern direction (from Highway 484) and 1400 feet going in an Easterly direction (from Bridges Road.) This does measure out to approximately 73-76 acres. We do not use the entire parcel but it is available to us and we are responsible for the upkeep. We use about 35-40 acres, it is kept like a state park would be kept. Our rental for this is $300.00 per year. We have a signed lease for a period of five years with the option of renewal. The last individual that had this land, used it for grazing catlte, he had it for twenty-five years. The land we are using was federal land during the Nixon era, it was to have been used for the Florida Barge Canal. This project was canceled and all the land involved was given to the State of Florida. Now all of this land is to be used for recreation. Let me clear something up, from the time I first spoke to Mr. Ayer till the day we had our final approval was another twelve to eighteen months. From the day we made the choice we still had another six months to go. The state may have control of the land but we must get approval from any local agency that may be involved, such as the county and the city in which the chosen site is located. We did all our work with Mr. Ayer,Director; Mr. Paul E. Hawker, Land Acquisition Agent; Mickey Thomason, Land Management Specialist, these are all state people. Mr. Jim Lowruy, Marion County Administrator also had to know what was happening in his county. He was great, listening to Don and myself for about 30 minutes, then made his decision. He called Mr. Ayers-Director and gave his approval while were there.
I believe I mentioned that the entire process from the very beginning to the end took several years, many, many letters and meetings. When it finally became a fact, you wonder how you did it, and is it all worth it?
YOU BET IT IS!!!!
Now that we had this land available there were other things that had to be done. We were required to install a gate. We were fortunate the parcel was already fenced in. The gate was installed to their specifications. We were not permitted to cut any trees, if we did we had to replace them, two for one. This was only done when they were in the way of the runway and were a bit of an obstruction. All the brush was cleared from approximately forty acres, set up a grass runway 400 feet long by 100 feet wide. Set up six pilot stations with fence protecton for the pilots, a 32' x 16' pilot building. Four large tables in the pit area, approximately 400' of cyclone fencing with four entrances to the pit area. We have picnic tables under the trees behind the fllight line, we also have electricity and water. It goes without saying, the state requires a survey of the land they let you to use. They give you the boundaries, then we were required to have the survey done by a professional surveyer. Parking goes without saying, we must enough for at least 200 plus cars and some camper space. We do not have a paved runway! There is another club in the area that does have a paved runway, they also acquired their field throught the same agency. I believe there are three R/C flying sites within a thirty mile radius that were secured through this agency. The agency is very happy with the manner in which we conduct ourselves. This is what makes it a bit easier for those that come along at a later date.
The signs we have at the gate are special. The painted sign on the left as you enter was purchased by the club, the other was given to us as a gift by the state. We did a little hinting and they were nice enough to make it for us. You guessed it, the large carved wooden sign was the one given by the state. I can only say the "Department of Environmental Protection of the State of Florida, Office of Greenways & Trails" has treated us well, what can we say, can't find the words to express appreciation.
This was not all, what you see now is the result of so many members we just haven't the space to write out the names. We still have a few of the old time members and so many of the newer members that put so much sweat and time along with a few bruised fingers into what this flying site is today. This was, and still is, a labor of love.
**We must clear something up. Our original club name was Citrus County R/C Club. We changed our operating name simply because it would not have been politically correct to be in Marion County using the adjacent county's name. This prompted us to change our operating name to "TRI COUNTY R/C CLUB," which is what we named our flying site.
We do hope you find this bit of club history interesting and enlightening.