June 16, 2010 Edition

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Club to close as ordered

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Members of the Walnut Ridge County Club and Golf Club learned that they must vacate their premises no later than midnight on Sunday at the Walnut Ridge Airport Commissioners meeting on Monday night.

David Cahoon, attorney for the airport and the city of Walnut Ridge, said failure to do so would leave the commission with no alternative other than to seek alternative remedies if the court's order is not complied with. Country Club board member Greg Gill told the commission that the club plans to comply with the order of the court.

"We are at your mercy," he said. "Tell us what we need to do and we'll do it."

Commissioner Dan Coker told him the premises have to be vacated. "The court has ordered this and we have no choice but to follow his ruling," Coker said. "The property has to be vacated by Sunday."

He told the group that the airport has to be brought into compliance with Federal Aviation Administration regulations, first and foremost.

"When we get that done, get back with us and we can work out a new lease for the clubhouse area, and then work on a golf course plan," Coker said. "Any new lease will have to be approved by Ed Agnew, FAA manager of the Arkansas/Oklahoma Airports Division.

Commissioner Bob Cole said, "We can work out any problem if we work together. We need an airport and a golf course and country club."

"We've all lived here all our lives," said commissioner Harry Hicks. "We don't need to be enemies."

Hal Lady, commission chairman, reported on his findings and discussion with the CEO of Morgan's Building and Spas

"He assured me their back rent will be paid," Lady said. "They have gotten behind before when they were having a cash flow problem, and they have always paid their rent. I feel they will keep their word."

He said cleanup of the Morgan property is coming along pretty well. "They're doing a decent job and still working on it," he added.

Lady asked airport manager Mitch Whitmire to let him know if they stopped working on the cleanup.

Morgan's third and last lease expires in October and they plan to move their operations to another location.

The commission agreed to offer Frank Kelley of Allied Ag Cat a one-year lease including a $150 a month increase they asked for in January. Kelley objected to the rent increase and has been paying rent in the amount he formerly paid. The commission also agreed to pay half the legal fees incurred in enforcing the new lease if Kelley will pay the other half.

Commissioners discussed the need to have a uniform lease that all their tenants will go by, with the option to increase rent when necessary.

In other business, the commission:

  • discussed the best way to clear the trees which are within the runway's safety zones.

  • asked C.L. and Corbet Clark of Clark Construction to meet with airport engineer Stacey Morris, commissioners Sam Massey and Dr. Ralph Joseph and Whitmire on Wednesday to discuss plans for a building to be leased by Arkansas Turbine. The first bids were too high to fit in the airport's budget.

  • learned that West Machine has paid past due rent for one month and still owes for three more months.

  • agreed to pay property taxes the airport owes on the land where the country club and golf course are located. New leases for renters will include the cost of property taxes.

  • voted to join the Wings of Honor Museum in placing a lighted billboard on the highway and buying pamphlets advertising the airport and the museum. The airport and museum will each pay half of the $500 setup fee and $100 a month for the sign.

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