August 18, 2010 Edition

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WR Airport commissioners
deal with leases, past due rent

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Leases, past due rent and the Arkansas Turbine Building were topics discussed at the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission meeting on Aug. 9

Allied Ag-Cat Corp. owner Frank Kelley refused to sign a new lease offered by the commission. The commission had put a lawsuit to evict Kelley on hold while they tried to negotiate an agreement after he refused to sign an earlier lease that raised his rent payment.

The commission is now moving forward to evict the business unless an agreement can be reached before they go to court.

The new lease required that Kelley insure the building his business occupies for up to $1 million, and pay for the upkeep of the structure and grounds maintenance.

The previous lease required Kelley to provide only liability insurance of up to $220,000.

Commission chairman Hal Lady said the insurance provision was too high and needed to be changed.

"You can only insure a building for the amount needed to replace it," Lady said. "All airport tenants will be required to sign new leases when their current leases expire. Allied Ag-Cat just happened to have the first lease to come up for renewal since the new lease was drafted."

Under the new lease, tenants will pay for maintenance and operation costs of the property they lease.

Morgan Buildings and Spas' lease is scheduled to expire in October and they plan to vacate airport property by the end of that month. They have fallen behind in rent payments, and commissioners are diligently pursuing collecting the money owed to the airport.

Airport manager Mitch Whitmire told the commission that Morgan has now paid their rent for January and February and is expected to pay two more months' worth of back rent within the next 10 days.

Commissioner Dan Coker told the commission he wanted to call a special meeting to discuss their options if a check from Morgan's was not received by Friday.

Universal Asset Management plans to lease the property and buildings Morgan currently occupies, and Coker said he wants to meet with officials from UAM to discuss a possible lease before the commission meets in September.

In other business, the commission:

  • learned that the country club has signed a new lease for the clubhouse and the property it sets on.

  • discussed modifications to plans for the Arkansas Turbine Building after the first estimate for the building was way over budget.

  • heard ideas from airport manager Mitch Whitmire about policy for future building opportunities. The policy will be discussed in more detail at next month's meeting.

Changes made to future leases

At a special meeting on Monday morning, Walnut Ridge Airport Commissioners made changes to the insurance coverage section of their new standard lease, according to Airport Manager Mitch Whitmire.

"Tenants will be required to carry insurance on the property they lease for the estimated replacement value of the structure and provide general liability coverage in the amount of $1 million," Whitmire said.

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