January 22, 2014 Edition

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Fuel sales up, repair work continues

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Regional Airport received good news about fuel sales in 2013 and learned that repairs are needed to a few airport buildings at their meeting on Monday.

Walnut Ridge Airport Manager Michelle Anthony told commissioners that fuels sales rose from 93,909 gallons in 2012 to 102,000 in 2013.

"Pilots who stop here for fuel enjoy having free ice cream, hot dogs and popcorn," Anthony said. "They let us know they appreciate it and come back for fuel when they fly near here."

Several months ago, the commission formed a hospitality committee and are reaping the benefits of the committee's work. Free airport caps will soon be available to visiting pilots as well as the food and soft drinks.

Chairman Dan Coker said word about the airport is getting out over the Internet and in other aviation-related media.

"Pilots are letting others know about the efficient, friendly staff at our airport and the snacks we have on hand," Coker said. "They also enjoy eating at the Parachute Inn and many have commented that our fuel prices are fair."

Anthony informed the commission that the building leased to West Machine Shop has some broken pipes due to the recent cold weather. "It has shut down their sprinkler system, and that's not something a regular plumber can fix," she said. She is in the process of locating someone who can do the job and getting an estimate on repairs.

Roof repairs to a building leased by V & B Manufacturing (the old Frolic Footwear building) are about to begin. Commissioners had already voted to accept a bid for approximately $20,000 to repair the metal part of the roof, and voted on Monday to finance that amount through Regions Bank.

"We are in good shape financially and would like to keep a little cushion on hand. There are only three payments left on our hangar at $1,040 a month," Coker said, "so I think borrowing money for the roof is the right way to go."

The flat part of the roof on the same building is also leaking and commissioners are waiting on estimates for that. V & B's lease was renewed and was increased from $1,800 to $2,000 a month.

Coker and Anthony took the commissioners on a tour of the airport's 'vault,' where the machine that powers the field's lighting is kept, along with other machines and the generator that would power the airport during a power failure; the former Universal Asset Management building which is now ready for occupancy should a business choose to locate there; and the V&B building with the roof damage.

"We discuss these all the time and thought some of the commissioners who haven't had the opportunity to visit the buildings we talk about would benefit from seeing them," Coker said.

In other business:

  • the commission voted to purchase a 32-gallon reclaim tank for the fuel farm at a price of $2,000. It will save the airport from losing six or seven gallons of fuel a day.

  • commissioners learned that the fuel farm just passed a very strict test by the military.

  • commissioners agreed to buy a $368 refractometer to be used for testing fuel as required by the military. The old one Anthony has been using is no longer reliable.

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