February 20, 2008 Edition

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Deadline for club
could be extended

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

After several weeks of discussion between the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission and the Walnut Ridge Country Club concerning the proximity of the club's golf course to a runway at the airport, the country club could receive additional time to come up with a solution.

Mayor Michelle Rogers told The Times Dispatch that the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission is expected to consider a proposal to extend the country club's deadline to close six holes at the golf course from March 15 to Nov. 1.

This possibility arose following the Walnut Ridge City Council meeting on Feb. 12. There was standing room only with between 30 and 40 people attending from the country club and the airport to discuss the fate of the golf course.

The county club had received a memo from the airport commission dated Feb. 11 requesting they "remove all earthen berms, posts, benches, equipment, fixtures, structures and appurtenances, fill ditches, remove trees and top trees by March 15, 2008, including six holes of the nine-hole golf course."

The memo also stated that in the event the timetable for removal was not met, the airport manager would be authorized and directed to have the work done and bill the country club for the cost.

Morris Polston spoke for the country club and asked the city council to assist in finding a plan the club and the airport could both live with.

"The airport commission says they have no choice in this matter in order for them to be in compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations," Polston said. "We believe there are many incorrect facts floating around. We would like to ask the council to form a committee made up of members from the council, the airport commission and the country club to meet with Ed Agnew, FAA regional director for Arkansas and Oklahoma. That way we'll all have the correct facts we need to try and work this out.

"None of this has to be done. I'm begging the council, and I am begging, please don't walk out on that golf course and start cutting down trees," Polston said.

According to Rogers, Agnew has told all parties involved that the issue needs to be solved on a local level.

All Arkansas airports are inspected on a three-year basis, and Walnut Ridge is due to be inspected by Oct. l. Failure to comply with Federal Aviation Regulation Part 77 subjects the airport to restrictions to and/or loss of instrument approach procedures, loss of Federal Airport Aid, increases the airport's liability, endangers aircraft and their pilots and passengers and jeopardizes future growth of the airport, according to the memo the country club received.

The council voted unanimously to form a committee to meet with Agnew as soon as possible.

Mayor Rogers said on Tuesday that the committee is being formed and plans to meet soon. Committee members include Morris Polston and Terry Ryan, country club, and Michael "Button" Wallin and Jonathan Sanders, councilmen. It will also include two representatives from the airport commission.

A meeting with Agnew, has not yet been set.

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