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Sceye Inc expects New Mexico funding to rebuild

Sceye Inc. is expected to receive financing from the state to help it rebuild its hangar and airship. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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Airship venture sustained significant damage from windstorm

The New Mexico governor’s office and officials with an experimental airship development group operating at the Roswell airfield plan to announce this weekend that an agency of the state of New Mexico will provide money to help the company rebuild after a March windstorm destroyed its hangar and helium-filled dirigible.

“It is a wonderful opportunity for us to rebuild and establish a firm footing in New Mexico and continue our work,” said David Kim, chief technology officer for Sceye Inc. “We are excited about it.”

Kim said that he could not provide additional details about the agreement and that an official announcement will occur this weekend.

Mark Bleth, Air Center manager and deputy director, said at a Thursday meeting of the city of Roswell Airport Advisory Commission that the state intends to provide a bridge loan to the company until its insurance funds or disaster-recovery funds are available.

“This is a big deal. New Mexico can’t outspend a lot of our neighboring states on economic incentive dollars,” he said, “but we can outdo them in heart. This shows we care. State of New Mexico stepping in, bridging those funds, keeping New Mexicans working and keeping the ball moving forward for us. That’s an important thing the state stepped up to do.”

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He said the loan was arranged after discussions among air center staff, Sceye officials and representatives with the governor’s office and the offices of Sens. Tom Udall, D-Santa Fe, and Martin Heinrich, D-Albuquerque.

A news conference is scheduled to occur 9:30 a.m. Saturday at the Roswell International Air Center airport terminal building at 1 Jerry Smith Circle. Flight Director Stephen Tomlin of Sceye Inc. and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham or her representatives are expected to discuss the details of the financing.

Sceye Inc. is a partnership that includes Vestergaard, an international global health corporation based in Switzerland with U.S. headquarters in Washington, D.C. The company has invented such things as a water filtration system, insecticidal bed nets and pest-resistant livestock screens and food storage bags.

Sceye was formed in March 2017 to develop a lighter-than-air, helium-filled, remote-controlled airship that can travel to the stratosphere and remain there for long periods while carrying cameras and communication equipment. Once proven viable, the airships would be built by Sceye and then leased to companies to monitor environmental conditions, human trafficking, poaching or other such situations or to provide a communication source for remote areas. Kim said the airships have advantages over satellites, which are placed far into space, and airplanes, which cannot be anchored within certain areas.

In earlier interviews, Kim said the company had completed some successful tests of the airships prior to the March 12 windstorm in Chaves County that destroyed the 65-foot airship and the custom-designed hangar, estimated to cost about $1 million, that the venture had constructed on the west side of the airfield. The company also leases Building 1670 from the city, which Kim said was undamaged by the strong gusts and sustained winds.

Elected officials with both the city of Roswell and Chaves County declared a state of emergency because of the damage caused by the storm and a tornado that occurred in the Dexter area a day earlier.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.