February 16, 2011 Edition

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Dunlap will serve on
Airport Commission

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Pending approval of the Walnut Ridge City Council, a woman will be serving as a commissioner for the first time in the history of the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission.

Commission chairman Dan Coker announced at their regular meeting on Monday night that Billie Gail Dunlap, former Lawrence County Clerk, will replace Hal Lady, whose term expired in December. Dunlap was appointed by Mayor Don House and will serve a five-year term once council members vote in favor of her appointment.

The commission voted to donate an old Oshkosh fire truck to the city of Walnut Ridge.

"The city needs money to replace one of its fire trucks, and they can sell this one or use it however they wish," Coker said. "We will not be using it in the future and need to get it off the airport ramp."

Coker told the commission that he had visited with Lawrence County Tax Assessor Farrah Matthews last week and learned that each of the airport's buildings needs to be appraised for tax purposes.

"I'm going to file to see if we can get all our buildings exempt from property taxes," Coker said. "Since we are owned by the city, we may not have to pay taxes on the buildings."

A project to install MALSR lights at the south end of runway 4-22 should begin in the spring. The medium intensity approach lights will allow pilots to land with half-mile visibility. The $750,000 project will be paid for with a grant from the FAA.

He reminded airport manager Mitch Whitmire and the commissioners that this year the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics will do an inspection of the airport for the Federal Aviation Administration. The inspections are done every three years, and the commission will receive a report on any deficiencies the inspector finds.

Whitmire reported a change in the airport's liability insurance carrier.

"We received notice from our former carrier that our renewal time was nearing, and I checked with other insurance providers to compare rates and coverages," Whitmire said. "We have changed companies and are now insured by Eastern Aviation Insurance out of Georgia."

He added that changing companies saved the airport $1,200 a year and gave them much better coverage than the old company.

Commissioners voted to establish an executive committee that will meet every other Monday at 9 a.m. to discuss airport business. No action or votes will be taken during the meetings. Dan Coker, Frank Wilson, Sam Massey and Dr. Ralph Joseph will serve on the committee.

They also voted to extend a hay lease with a local farmer for another year.

Whitmire informed the commission that airport employees are getting equipment ready for the upcoming mowing season.

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