June 17, 2009 Edition

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WR Council addresses
needs at Stewart Park

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge City Council discussed projects for Stewart Park, brush cleanup and future plans for a business at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport at last Tuesday's meeting.

Mayor Michelle Rogers told the council that work began on the extended trail at the park on June 9, and that the last of the hanger limbs in the park are still being cleared out. She said the city is mopping out ditches now, trying to get all the water drained off the park.

"We need ditches in the center of the park," alderwoman Paula Haskins said. "The standing water will make our mosquito problem worse."

She added that she felt the city needs to thin out some of the trees so sunlight can help dry the park after a big rain. She suggested they call the USDA Forest Service and have them label trees that need to be removed from the park.

"They will know which trees are good for the park and which ones are not," she said. "They will label the trees, and we can decide which ones we want to cut."

The council voted unanimously for Haskins to call the forest service, and alderman Michael "Button" Wallin said a logging company would probably pay the city for the cut trees.

Walnut Ridge Airport Manager Ken Newcom and airport engineer Stacey Morris, with ETI Corporation in Memphis, informed the council about a new building the airport commission wants to build for an additional business Universal Asset Management would like to locate here. The site for the building would be located across from the fire-training center near the airport.

The business would receive up to 15 planes at a time, which are taken off service for six months from companies such as Southwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, etc. The planes will be serviced, parts removed and repaired, and then the planes will be stored and maintained at the Walnut Ridge airport until the airline is ready to put them back into service, according to Newcom. He said the business would create 15 to 20 jobs initially, with possibly more later on.

Steve Manley has bought a repair station where the parts can be repaired to regulation standards and will move it here, which will create more jobs, if the airport can provide a building big enough to house the aircraft.

Morris told the council the jobs created would be high tech jobs and should pay pretty decent wages.

The council agreed the airport commission should go ahead with plans to apply for grants and bonds, which the commission will be responsible for, not the city.

"Arkansas Turbine is also expanding at the airport, and we possibly have a third business in the works," Newcom said.

In other business, the council:

  • agreed to refinance an interest-only loan which had come due on the fire department's ladder truck. The new principal and interest loan will be a 5-year, fixed rate loan on $30,000 at 4.25 percent interest.

  • was reminded that the July 3 fireworks display will be held again this year in Stewart Park with live entertainment, vendors, activities for the kids, etc.

  • learned that the city has received a $17,000 check from FEMA for storm cleanup, with more payments expected.

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