April 11, 2012 Edition

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Pavement rehabilitation
planned at WR airport

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

As the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport celebrates its 70th birthday this weekend, bids are being sought to rehabilitate its original concrete runways and ramp. The $600,000 project will be funded by a Drainage Improvement and Pavement Rehabilitation Grant, Phase II, from the Federal Aviation Administration.

"This is phase two of the work that began last year," said Airport Commission Chairman Dan Coker at the commissioner's meeting Monday night. "Ninety percent of the money will come from the FAA grant, and we will request five percent from the Department of Aeronautics. We will be responsible for the remaining five percent, which is $30,000."

The focus of the airport's current Five Year Plan is runway and ramp rehabilitation, drainage improvement and runway lighting.

"Ramp repair will begin at the south gate and go all the way to the helipad," said Airport Manager Michelle Anthony.

"Concrete from the helipad all the way to the taxiway by the north gate, all the way out to the grass and part of the ramp past the curb will be rehabilitated," Coker said. " Expansion joints will be cleaned out, and some of the concrete will be replaced. Eight miles of concrete will be repaved and resealed, and drainage improvements will be made."

Drainage repairs will take $33,379 of the grant money.

Anthony gave a report on her recent trip to an FAA conference in Fort Smith.

"We learned ways to keep animals and birds which endanger planes during landings and takeoffs away from our runways," Anthony said. "Most airports have fences around them, and we will eventually probably have to have one, too. We would need 25,000 feet of fencing at a cost of $250,000.

"For now we can use the methods they taught us, which include keeping the grass cut very short, trapping some animals and using a pyrotechnic gun to keep birds away."

A new safety measure for access to the field is also being implemented.

Gates leading onto the field will now be kept locked. A security system will be installed that will require a code number to open them, and only airport personnel will have access to the code.

Commissioners also discussed a roof problem at the Arkansas Turbine Hut.

"The roof has been leaking, and they have a lot of equipment in the building," said Commissioner Frank Wilson. "They overhaul and repair turbine engines in there, and we need to fix the roof."

Commissioners agreed to hire Darrell McQuay Construction of Alicia to make the repairs. His estimate was $4,169.94 to replace the 20-by-144 foot roof, and commissioners believe the new roof should last at least 20 years.

In other business, the commission:

  • learned that a bid of $3,000 to repair the tetrahedron has been received, but tabled the discussion until more research is done.

  • agreed to apply for a 1992 Dodge Caravan from the GSA program through the FAA. The van would be used as a courtesy vehicle for airport guests.

  • voted to place a quarter-page ad in the Fly-Low Magazine, a monthly aviation publication, for three months this summer at a cost of $255 a month. They hope the ad will bring more business to the airport and are also hopeful the publisher may give them some complimentary ad space.

  • formed a Customer Service Committee to help encourage pilots and guests to return to the airport. Members are Ed Lawson, Commissioners Don Cavenaugh and Billie Gail Dunlap and Anthony.

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