April 13, 2011 Edition

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Equipment, lease topics
for airport commission

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commissioners discussed equipment, a farm lease, road repairs and modifications to the Arkansas Turbine building at their meeting on Monday night.

Lawrence County Judge Dale Freeman asked the commissioners if the county could borrow or lease the airport's Gradeall.

"We want to put an overhead cutter on it and use it to clear tree limbs, etc., from our roads," Freeman said. "The cutter will cost us $15,000, but we need it."

The commission agreed to lease the Gradeall to the county for $1 a year. The lease is necessary in order for the county to carry insurance on the machine.

Freeman told the commissioners that the county will make a Track Hoe, gravel and a backhoe available for their use in repairing streets and other projects at the airport.

Walnut Ridge Street Superintendent Ricky Ditto recently visited the airport to see where street repairs are needed. Coker will meet with him and prioritize repairs.

"If we all keep working together like we are now, we will see some real changes in Lawrence County," Freeman said.

Commission Chair Dan Coker updated the commission on his efforts to hire an airport attorney. He has talked to two local attorneys and will talk to two more and present their fee schedules at the next meeting. The commissioners will then decide who they want to hire.

The commissioners agreed to amend a lease for Donald Parten, who farms land owned by the airport. Because of the land swap with Williams Baptist College, Parten was unable to farm acreage he had already paid rent on last year and will now be reimbursed by the commission. An amended lease will reflect the correct acreage Parten farms.

Airport Manager Mitch Whitmire told commissioners that the airport still has a lot of equipment and some vehicles that are not being used and need to be sold. Whitmire will bring a list of items that need to be sold to the meeting in May.

"We only need a small truck and one courtesy car for airport use," Whitmire said.

In other business:

  • commissioners agreed to move forward with modifications to the Arkansas Turbine building, which will allow the company to park up to three planes inside, compared to the one plane it can currently house. The building will also be insulated.

  • the commission discussed ramp repairs and the equipment needed to make the repairs, including an air compressor.

  • commissioners went into an executive session to discuss a personnel problem. An employee was suspended recently by the airport manager, and after looking over the employee handbook, commissioners agreed to let Whitmire decide when the employee can return to work.

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