June 13, 2012 Edition

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Airport commissioner Don Cavenaugh (from left), airport manager Michelle Anthony and commission chairman Dan Coker discuss airport improvements during the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport commissioner's meeting Monday night.

Airport receives $529,317 grant

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

U.S. Senators Mark Pryor and John Boozman recently joined Congressman Rick Crawford in announcing the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport will receive a $529,317 grant to rehabilitate its existing taxi way and ramp, which have reached the end of useful life according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Airport Improvement Program grant may only be used for new construction and improvements at the facility.

"Appreciation is in order to Pryor, Boozman and Crawford for their assistance in obtaining this grant," said Walnut Ridge Mayor Don House. "Airport manager Michelle Anthony, commission chairman Dan Coker and the entire airport commission are to be commended for this successful grant application.

"We have a great airport. It is a real gem, but it must be kept up and needs to be utilized to its maximum," he continued. "Our airport is one of only three military aircraft fueling stops in Arkansas. Funds from fuel sales, building rentals, crop sales, etc., provide the airport's income. It receives no tax support from the city.

"Grants for repairs of the aging concrete and facilities help preserve the airport for the future and helps the commission be better stewards of the airport."

At Monday night's meeting it was reported that property received considerable damage from the June 3 thunderstorm.

"Two doors on a hangar were damaged, as well a couple of metal buildings, the new roof on the country club building and our rent house," Anthony told the commissioners. "The insurance adjustor has not finished his assessment, but will be back tomorrow to complete it."

New businesses may be coming to the airport in the near future.

Chairman Dan Coker told commissioners that he has been approached by a representative from Aircraft Demolition Inc., which is looking into the feasibility of locating operations at the airport.

"He would like to pay us $2,500 to place a freeze on the former Morgan Building property for 60 days while he works on getting a business plan together," Coker said.

The company provides aircraft recycling, dismantling and salvage services.

The commission voted in favor of accepting the offer.

In other business, the commission:

  • discussed plans the Customer Service Committee is working on including painting the men's restroom, and planning an event in September similar to a fly-in that would bring the public out and create interest in the airport.

  • voted to replace the air conditioning unit in the rent house with either a 4,000 ton central air unit or two window air units. The current central unit is broken and is too old to be repaired. Two bids on a new central unit were between $2,600 and $3,000. Anthony was asked to price two window units, including the cost of any wiring they might need and installation, and then replace the damaged air conditioner with whichever of the two options that is most cost effective.

  • agreed to hire Imboden Live to build and launch a website for the airport. The new site, which should be up within three weeks, will link the airport to other county sites and have them in the number one spot on the search engine within 30 days, according to Buddy Williams, owner of Imboden Live. The initial fee is $1,200 and $950 a year thereafter for hosting and maintaining the site.

  • voted to sell a front end loader to the county for $5,000. The loader was put up for bids but no bids were received.

  • agreed to continue running an ad in Fly Low for another four months. This will allow them to publicize their fuel prices until after the EAA AirVenture Convention at Oshkosh, Wisc., July 23-29. Many pilots buy fuel at the Walnut Ridge Airport on their way to and from the celebration each year.

  • discussed upcoming meetings with the Arkansas Airport Operation Association and the Department of Aeronautics, as well as a HazMat training session Anthony will be attending in Georgia later this month.

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