October 13, 2010 Edition

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Commissioners discuss
FOIA, leases and land

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Those wishing to be notified of regular meetings and special meetings held by the Walnut Ridge Airport Commissioners have been asked to submit their request in writing, including phone numbers and e-mail addresses.

The commission held two separate meetings, one on Aug. 16 and one on Sept. 24, at 8 a.m., and notified the press at approximately 6 a.m. before each meeting.

The Freedom of Information Act requires governmental bodies to notify the media and public two hours before a meeting, and the notification has to be sent at a time when the receiving body can receive it, according to the Arkansas Attorney General's Office.

Commissioner Dan Coker, who sent the fax notifications on both occasions, said, "I did not violate the Act. The argument over the time periods was based on the spirit of the law. I am not a lawyer, so I didn't know."

Commissioners discussed a land swap with Donald Parten who farms 20 acres of property owned by the airport. Parten told the commission he would like to have a 10-year lease since he plans to do some underground irrigation work on the property.

It was agreed that the commission had no problem with a lease for that length of time, but they will consult their attorney to make certain a 10-year lease is legal and get the legalities in writing.

Charles Snapp of Walnut Ridge asked the commission for permission to place a monument of The Beatles between the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School Museum and the airport terminal. The monument will be 20 feet wide and eight feet high. It will face south, running east and west.

"We need your permission to place it here, and all we ask for is an electric source to plug spotlights into," Snapp said. "News about the sculpture and footprints leading to the tarmac where The Beatles landed in 1964 have already made national news, and we expect to bring in lots of tourists once this is completed."

The commissioners voted unanimously to allow the installation of the sculpture.

In other business, commissioners:

  • learned that Morgan Buildings has paid 100 percent of their rent and pretty well vacated airport property. They have 30 days to remove two remaining buildings. Airport Manager Mitch Whitmire will check into hiring a street sweeper to clear the area of remaining nails, screws, etc.

  • were informed by Whitmire that everything is up to date with Universal Asset Management, and that he has given them data needed for a business plan. They are waiting on the land swap with Parten, and will use the property to park more planes. They will pay rent for each plane they park on airport property.

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