September12, 2012 Edition

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WR airport to seek 80/20 grant

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commission Chairman Dan Coker told commissioners that he has discussed the possibility of applying for an 80/20 grant with the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics. At their meeting on Monday night, Coker said there are 20 other airports in line ahead of the Walnut Ridge airport wanting grants, and funding is limited.

"Most of the grant funding is limited to safety features for airports," Coker said. "They weren't real encouraging about the possibility of us receiving a grant, but told us to go ahead and submit the application."

The grant would be used to build a new hangar for corporate jets.

"We are getting more jet aircrafts out here, and we need a hangar to park them in," he said. "Most of them don't want to park their aircraft outside and leave them. They buy fuel from us and then fly to Jonesboro to put their planes in hangars there."

Also, the commission is still negotiating with an individual who would like to build a private hangar to keep his plane in while he is in the area.

"He would pay for the materials to build the hangar, and we could rent it out to other people when he is not using it," Coker said.

In other business:

  • commissioners were informed that the doors on an older hangar that were damaged by a summer storm have been repaired. John Allen Construction of Big Sandy, Tenn., repaired the doors, and insurance will pay for the repairs.

  • it was reported that phase II of rehabilitating the taxiway and ramp and improving drainage is now in its 35th day. The work is being paid for with a $529,317 Airport Improvement Grant, and work must be completed 100 days after the project begins.

  • commissioners learned that two generators that received a direct hit from lightning in a thunderstorm earlier in the summer will be replaced by one large generator from Federal Supply. During the storm, 1,086 lightning strikes hit in a 96-minute period of time within a ten-mile radius of the airport, according to airport manager Michelle Anthony.

  • the commission agreed not to raise hangar fees this year. Pilots will now be allowed to pay a year's fees in advance or pay quarterly.

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