October 19, 2011 Edition

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Airport Commission discusses
possible ownership of rails

Susan Johnson
Contributing Writer

Members of the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission received a surprise announcement at the Oct. 10 meeting.

Described as a "complicated" issue by chairman Dan Coker, commissioners were informed that a section of railroad, believed to have been owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, was in fact under the ownership of the Walnut Ridge Airport.

Coker said the section of railroad had been removed in 2006, and after digging through two years (2005-2006) of minutes from previous meetings, he had yet to find where Burlington Northern had been given permission to remove the section of railroad track.

"When the property was deeded to the city, a section of the railroad was part of the assets," Coker said, referring to a 2.8 mile spur that stretched across airport property. "So the rails that were removed in 2006 actually belonged to the airport."

Coker said the documentation was discovered in Ft. Worth, Texas, by Harold Johnson while he was researching documents and materials to be included in the local Wings of Honor Museum archives. Coker said the documents will now be "turned over" to the city attorney.

Coker also gave an update of the recent FAA inspection, stating areas of the taxiways and ramps are in need of repair. Other areas of repair needed dealt with the airfield lighting system on runway 0422. Coker said a company had been notified to "come in and troubleshoot the problem."

In other business, commissioners gave their approval to keep hut and hangar lease prices the same and approved a motion to allow debit card usage for lease payments.

A new lease agreement for Laco Manufacturing is currently being written for commission approval during the November meeting.

Commissioners were also given a FEMA update concerning the spring storm damage. Coker reported all applications had been submitted.

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