February 22, 2012 Edition

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Commission plans work
on runway lighting system

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

To correct problems with the airstrip lighting at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport, commissioners voted at their meeting on Friday to hire an electrician to change electrical regulators that have been causing the lights to flicker or shut off.

The smaller regulator has been handling more voltage than the larger one, and that has caused the problem, according to officials.

A new regulator will cost up to $16,000 and the labor to install it will run around $200. The commission has applied for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace the regulator causing the problem.

Work on the runways' drainage systems is close to completion, according to Stacey Morris, airport engineer.

"Wet, cold weather has delayed the contractor's work on sealing the runways to prevent water intrusion," Morris said. "Once the weather improves, the project should be completed in about a week."

The airport's five-year capital improvement plan was also presented by Morris. A commission-approved plan must be in place by March to comply with Federal Aviation Administration regulations. The plan includes an overhaul of the ramps and taxiways, and further drainage work as well as extensive work on runway 18-36.

Money for the improvements comes from the federal government and is based primarily on need, Morris said.

A surveillance camera has been set up to stop people from driving across restricted spaces in front of the airport terminal, and signs will also be posted. There have been reports that all-terrain vehicles have been spotted on or near the runways at night, said Airport Manager Michelle Anthony.

"Tracks have been found in the dirt in the vicinity of the runways," Anthony said.

Airport Commission Chairman Dan Coker said police will patrol the area to keep truck and cars and other vehicles out of the area where planes taxi as well as the area where the all-terrain vehicle tracks have been discovered.

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