June 12, 2013 Edition

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WR Airport commissioners
discuss rental lease changes

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Walnut Ridge Regional Airport commissioners discussed changes to be made to building and hangar leases at their meeting on Monday, as well as repairs to their electric gate, lights on runway 18-36 and Taxiway A-E and the tetrahedron.

Leases on several buildings owned by the airport are coming up for renewal or have already expired, and the new leases will have to reflect an increase due to the rate of inflation. Commission chair Dan Coker informed the commissioners that V&B Manufacturing's lease has expired along with West Machine Shop's.

Coker asked commissioners Sam Massey, Gary Kearby and Billie Gail Dunlap to serve on a committee with him to bring the new leases up to date.

"The amount of these leases need to be increased according to the rate of inflation and brought into line with those who have already had their leases increased," he said.

The roof on the building leased by V&B has several leaks, and Dan Caspall, V&B vice president, has told the commission that repairing the roof is the airport's responsibility. Commissioner's had asked if V&B might agree to a lease increase to help pay off a loan the airport will need to replace the roof.

Coker said the new lease reflecting a rate of inflation raise will help offset the cost of the roof. Bids will have to be taken before the roof can be replaced.

New water lines have been run from the meter to the V&B building to correct water leaks. Caspall said they still have a small leak but will check and see if it might be coming from their boiler.

Hangar rentals have decreased and Airport Manager Michelle Anthony said she has been asking around to see if she could find a reason for the drop in rentals.

Anthony told the commission she feels they have lost some potential hangar renters because the current hangar leases include a 'no maintenance' clause.

"Pilots want to be able to do light maintenance on their planes inside the hangars," she said. "They need the freedom of being able to do fairly simple stuff."

The commission agreed to the change in hangar leases. Pilots will not be allowed to replace an engine or do any work on their planes that isn't allowed by the FAA.

The airport's tetrahedron, which was placed there by the military during WWII, is in need of repairs and commissioners have been searching for a way to have it repaired. A 50/50 grant could take up to two years to receive if one could be obtained.

"I'm not sure it will last two more years without being repaired," Commissioner Sam Massey said.

The one estimate the commission has received so far was more than they expected, but they feel it is important to have the work done. Frank Kelley, owner of Allied Ag-Cat Corporation, which is located near the airport, was at the meeting and told commissioners his company does that type of work. He agreed to look at the tetrahedron and provide them with an estimate.

Once repaired, Anthony said the FAA requires it to be certified on a yearly basis. This is one of very few or may be the only one left in Arkansas, the commissioners believe.

In other business, commissioners:

  • discussed the problem with lighting on Runway 18-36 and made plans to see about repairing the lights. Two specialists have checked the lighting at considerable expense to the airport and still haven't fixed the problem. Each individual light will have to be tested until the cause is found.

  • were informed by Coker that employees' insurance will be going up at least twice and the only way to bring the cost down would be to increase the deductibles. However, he said the airport employees will have to go along with whatever the city council decides to do for city employees and council members.

  • heard from Anthony that the last two thunderstorms have damaged the electric gate and the motor and the motherboard will have to be replaced. On the bright side, she said the pilot access door is working well for the airport.

    "Pilots and their families like having access to the bathroom and soft drinks if they arrive after we have gone home for the day."

  • learned that pilots of between 18 and 20 small planes and their guests plan to visit the Wings of Honor Museum and eat at Parachute Inn on June 21.

  • agreed to purchase an ice cream box in order to have snacks for visiting pilots.

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