August 15, 2012 Edition

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Airport commission discusses
old military hangar, repairs

Walnut Ridge Airport Commissioners Billie Gail Dunlap (from left), Sam Massey and commission chairman Dan Coker check out the interior of the old military hangar that was built at the airport in 1942. The hangar has been included in the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and will hopefully be added to the National Register of Historic Places in the near future.
TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Old Military Hangar at the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport has been included in the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and will be nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, according to Dan Coker, chairman of the Walnut Ridge Airport Commission.

"The nomination now has to be approved on the federal level," said Wings of Honor Museum board president Harold Johnson. "It's usually pretty certain that a nominated property will be accepted once it passes from the state level to Washington, D. C."

The hangar was built at the airport in 1942 during World War II. Once it is listed on the national register, grants for restoring it to its original condition will be available. The airport will still be able to lease it out after it is restored, but the structure must be preserved in the same manner it was built 60 years ago.

A letter from the Department of Arkansas Heritage states that the listing provides recognition of the property and assists in preserving the nation's heritage.

Chairman Coker informed the commissioners that the airport's insurance company has requested that the airport get assessments for repairing the damage done to equipment during a recent thunderstorm. Two 37-kilowatt generators, a 15-kilowatt regulator and other items were damaged when they were stuck by lightening in a direct hit. They plan to replace the two smaller generators with a 125-kilowatt unit.

Two hangar doors damaged by wind in an earlier storm still need to be repaired, and the insurance company is sending someone from John Allen Construction in Jackson, Tenn., to see if they can do the job. The price of repairs is estimated at $3,000.

The airport is also undergoing major improvements, thanks to a $529,317 Airport Improvement Grant received through the Federal Aviation Administration in June.

Construction work to rehabilitate the airport's existing taxiway and ramp and improve drainage began last week, Coker said. "The company must have the work completed within 100 working days."

Coker also informed the commissioners the Civil Air Patrol will be at the airport on Saturday, running a search and rescue training mission. Linemen will be given marshaling training (directing airplanes during takeoffs, landings and parking).

The staff at the Wings of Honor Museum will cook hamburgers for the group, and the airport will supply the meat.

Commissioners also learned from Coker that he has been approached by a private jet owner who would like to buy a hangar for his use at the airport. He would pay for the hangar, and the airport would install it and be able to lease it out when he isn't using it. The commission agreed there were many issues to be addressed and studied before any such agreement could be made.

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