March 12, 2014 Edition

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Airport Commission renews lease

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

Airport commissioners discussed real estate taxes, runway lighting and a new lease with Black River Technical College at their meeting on Monday.

BRTC has requested a 50-year extension to their lease agreement with the airport. They are planning to invest approximately $1 million in a four-story fire tower that will be located at the Fire Training Center they operate on airport property. The college also uses the center to train EMTs.

Angie Caldwell, vice president for technical education at the college, told the commission that the center serves trainees from Randolph, Lawrence, Clay, Greene and Sharp counties. The nonprofit organization agreed to pay $1,200 a year for rent, and the lease was extended. It will expire in 2064.

The lighting on runways 18-56 and 04-22 are now working, according to Commission Chairman Dan Coker. Lighting at the airport had been an ongoing problem for some time.

Airport real estate taxes have been received in the amount of $17,833. Last year was the first time the airport has been required to pay taxes on its income producing buildings. "Most of the airport's tenants have tax payments included in their leases, " Coker said.

The commission agreed that tax bills will now be sent to their tenants with the request that they be paid to the airport by May 1.

Airport engineer Stacey Morris discussed the airport's Capital Improvement Plan with the commission. The Federal Aviation Administration requires that airports have a five-year plan for improvements, and plans are updated each March. Morris recommended, and commissioners agreed, that they update last year's plan with only a few minor changes.

Airport Manager Michelle Anthony reminded commissioners about the auction that will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the former Universal Assets Management building. Items left by UAM and items from the airport and the Wings of Honor Museum will be sold, including airplane parts, two small scooters, a small motorcycle, a 4-wheeler, a tanker, a tractor, etc.

In other business:

  • Anthony reminded the commission of the Arkansas Airport Operators Association meeting in Ft. Smith Sept. 28-30. She and Coker recommended those who could to attend. Billy Gail Dunlap told the other members that she had gained a lot of useful information about airport operations when she attended last year's meeting.

  • Commissioners also learned that the airport is now debt free. Anthony said they owed $160,000 when she became manager and have now paid off their last note.

  • An update from the Customer Service Committee meeting was given. The committee plans to send letters to pilots in Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas to inform them about the amenities offered here. They will also send pamphlets with information about the April Fly-in, the Beatles at the Ridge festival and the April 12 Airfield Reunion.

  • Chairman Coker told the commission he will attend a meeting at Camp Robinson in connection with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management naming Walnut Ridge Airport a staging area in the event of a major disaster in the state.

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