June 10, 2009 Edition

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WR airport and golf club
still searching for solution

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Following a decision by Circuit Court Judge Harold Erwin, which will allow the Walnut Ridge Airport to evict the Walnut Ridge Golf Club within 30 days unless an appeal is filed on the club's behalf, the airport commission invited a committee from the club to attend Monday night's regular commissioners meeting.

"We have always said we would work with the golf club, but we had to bring the airport into FAA compliance," said Dan Coker, Walnut Ridge Airport Commission chairman. "We had no choice. The area around runway 18-36 has to be cleared.

"We are still hopeful we can relocate that part of the golf course that violates FAA regulations." During the Monday night meeting, Coker appointed a committee from the commission to work with a committee from the golf club with their goal being to devise an alternative plan for moving the holes causing the violation.

"The group will meet twice a week to try to come up with a suitable plan," Coker said.

Terry Ryan, spokesperson for the golf club, said papers were filed by the airport's attorney on June 5 per Judge Erwin's instructions following his decision. If the decision is to be appealed, the appeal must be filed by July 5.

"We are in the process of raising funds for an appeal, and we will appeal the judge's decision unless an acceptable alternate solution is agreed upon," Ryan said. "Otherwise, we are shut down."

Coker said the airport commission is very willing to sign a new lease with the Walnut Ridge Country Club covering the property the clubhouse building occupies, as well as the tennis courts and swimming pool. They pose no threat to the airport's compliance with FAA regulations.

"If the golf club files an appeal, that will stop our ability to work with them until the Court of Appeals rules," Coker said. "Our attorney has advised us not to talk about a compromise if an appeal is filed."

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