July 11, 2012 Edition

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Airport employees receive
temporary cut in hours

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Three full-time employees at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport were temporarily cut back to part-time at Monday night's airport commission meeting. The economy and several weeks with no rain are big factors in the cuts.

"Fuel sales are down, despite our airport having very competitive fuel prices with other airports in the region," said airport manager Michelle Anthony. "People just aren't flying as much, and some are selling their planes which costs us in hangar fees. Other airports are having similar problems."

Two linemen who fuel planes and one man who does maintenance and mowing at the airport will now be working part-time along with a permanent part-time employee until business picks up. A lot of their work in the summer months includes mowing, and the dry weather has kept the grass from growing so there is less work for them to do.

Phase I of the Airport Improvement Program Grant for airport drainage improvements and taxiway rehabilitation has been completed, and work on Phase II is expected to begin in a couple of weeks, according to Anthony. The job must be completed in 100 days.

The airport's insurance carrier has been unable to complete their estimate of damages caused by a storm several weeks ago. Doors on some of the hangars were damaged and doors like those aren't made any more. They may have been built 50 or more years ago, according to Anthony.

"The adjustor is searching for someone who can give him an estimate on what it will cost to have doors built to replace them," said Anthony.

Airport employees will be digging up wires and transformers to assist Smith Electric of Imboden, who will be replacing an old regulator that has been causing problems with the airfield's lighting system.

Anthony said the regulator was bad and the professionals who diagnosed the problem told her there was a lot of moisture in the connections.

Smith Electric will be making the repairs and wrapping connections with a special tape that will keep out moisture.

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