January 16, 2013 Edition

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WR Airport Commission discusses
repairs and increase in airport traffic

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

New airport commissioners, Neil Vaccari and Gary Kearby, were welcomed to the board by chairman Dan Coker at Monday night's regular meeting. Vaccari and Kearby replace former commissioners Frank Wilson, who's term expired in December, and the late Harry Hicks.

Commissioners voted in favor of purchasing a keypad lock for a pilot access door, similar to the one at the airport in Paragould. This will allow pilots entry into the terminal after hours or in case of a forced landing in the middle of the night.

Pilots will have access to the guest lounge, restrooms, snack and drink machines, a television and a computer. They will be able to check weather reports or relax while waiting on bad weather to clear without airport personnel having to come to the airport, let them in and stay until they fly out. Pilots will not have access to the manager's office or the board room.

Chairman Coker told the commissioners that the airport's engineer has sent in a request to the Airport Improvement Program to continue improvements on the ramp, runways and taxiways in 2013.

"We had money left over from the work completed last year and can add it to the $150,000 we will receive this year for further improvements," Anthony said.

Repairs are needed to the roof at one of buildings V&B Manufacturing rents from the airport.

"They called and said we have leaks and holes in the old part of the roof, and some spots look rusty," Anthony said.

Commissioner Sam Massey said that $20,000 was spent on repairs to part of the roof three or four years ago. The building was built in the late 40s or early 50s.

Coker said he has asked Anthony to contact the insurance company to see if the damage is covered.

He also informed the commission that he would like the airport to rent out a hut left vacant by Arkansas Turbine. The building has a brand new roof, security doors, has heat and air, a restroom and an office. Commissioners voted to rent it out for $300 a month with a $200 deposit.

The commissioners also voted in favor of adding additional lighting on the ramp at the back of the terminal. The lighting that is currently there does not work and will also be repaired.

"Right now it's hard to see the fuel tanks when we need to get to them at night, and we need to be able to see the ramp when there are planes here," Anthony said.

Anthony told the commissioner's that she saw more jet traffic in December than she has seen at the airport in the past two years.

"We sold two truck loads of fuel in just a couple of weeks," she said. "Duck hunters have been a big reason for the increase in our traffic, and the pilot from Minnesota who wants to build a hangar here also keeps bringing in people. We could have placed six jets in hangars if we had them available, and could have rented out 10 cars."

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