May 6, 2009 Edition

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Dispute still unresolved;
judge to contact parties

Harold Johnson (from left), president of the Wings of Honor Museum Board, visits with Sam Massey, airport commissioner, and Jerry "Bull" Winters, Walnut Ridge Country Club manager, at the Randolph County Courthouse on Thursday.
Gloria Howard
Staff Writer

Those on both sides of Walnut Ridge's golf club and airport dispute who were hoping for a ruling were disappointed following a trip to the Randolph County Courthouse where their attorneys appeared before Judge Harold Erwin on Thursday morning.

Judge Erwin again asked the two attorneys to sit down together and try to work out the problem on their own.

C.W. Knauts of Piggott, attorney for the golf club, told the judge he was willing to continue trying to reach an agreement.

David Cahoon of Jonesboro, attorney for the airport and the city, told Erwin that he and his clients have tried for eight or nine months to find a solution without success.

"We have exhausted every possibility," Cahoon said. "We have offered them land on airport property. Members of the community have told them they would supply equipment and free labor to move the seven holes on their golf course that are causing the airport to be out of compliance with FAA regulations. We are at an impasse."

The golf club has said the amount of land offered them is not enough for the holes they would have to move, and that any offers made to them were never in writing. Also, they would like to be able to continue to play golf while a new course was being built if they received the amount of land needed to replace their present course and enough money to build with.

"The club and airport have co-existed for 50 years, and I feel they still can," Knauts said. He said there are possibly grants available to help fund the relocation of the offending holes, and waivers from the FAA could be looked into as a solution to the immediate problem.

Erwin told the attorneys he would be in touch with them soon regarding the motion for summary judgment filed by the airport and the city and the golf clubs response to it.

"He said he'd get back in touch with us," Knauts told club members following the appearance in court. "He didn't say he would make a ruling."

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