July 8, 2009 Edition

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Golf club files appeal

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

After the Walnut Ridge Golf Club and the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commission appeared to have reached an agreement to settle their two-year battle over the airport's safety zones, negotiations between them apparently broke down last week. The golf club's attorney, C.W. Knauts, filed a Notice of Appeal and Designation of Record on their behalf on Thursday.

The document petitions the Court of Appeals to overturn the "Judgment for Defendants," which granted the airport and city's motion for summary judgment by Judge Harold Erwin on June 5.

Knauts said the notice of appeal had to be given within 30 day of judgement, which they have done, and posted a $10,000 bond as required.

"We have done everything within out rights to appeal," Knauts said. "We are still willing to discuss a settlement that meets the approval of the golf club, the commissioners and the FAA. If such an agreement is reached, we can withdraw our motion to appeal. We have 90 days to work this out or continue with the appeal."

Erwin's ruling ordered the golf club to vacate the premises they had leased from the airport and city, and to return the property to its prelease condition by July 5 in order to bring the airport's safety zones into compliance with FAA regulations. The course was to be removed at the club's expense.

"We thought we had an agreement after the country club membership voted not to appeal," said Dan Coker, chairman of the airport commission. "We did everything we could, subject to FAA rules."

Coker added that he and the commissioners are very disappointed about the intent to appeal. "We're hoping this will not affect our ability to secure funding for new buildings for Universal Asset Management and Arkansas Turbine," he said. "These two businesses would create new jobs here, jobs that we need."

The case will now be heard in the Arkansas Court of Appeals if an agreement is not reached within 90 days. A court date has not yet been set. The golf club can continue to play on its golf course, and the airport will remain out of compliance with FAA safety regulations until an agreement is made or the case has been heard and decided.

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