November 12, 2014 Edition

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Commissioners discuss
grants, shooting ranges

Gloria Wilkerson
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Airport Commission discussed two grants they will apply for in the very near future and issues that a recent airport inspection brought to their attention.

Chairman Dan Coker told commissioners that the airport's last inspection found a few old mounds left on airport property from the former golf course. Coker said those are about to be leveled, and that the skeet shooting range and police firing range located on airport property have been shut down.

The inspector informed Airport Manager Michelle Anthony that anything non-aviation related on airport property must be discussed with FAA representatives for approval. Failure to do so could prevent the airport from receiving further grants, as well as the remote possibility of the airport having to go back and repay grants received for the past 20 years.

Commissioners were informed the airport is currently in the process of applying for three grants, one of which is an Airport Improvement Grant in the amount of $150,000. These funds must be used for airport improvements only.

"We have 16,000 feet of runways and more than 60 acres of concrete to maintain," Coker said. "We are allowed to bank the AIP grant money for up to four years, which we have been doing. We currently have $666,000 to use on improvements."

One runway's striping and signage is also out of compliance and the commission will apply for a $200,000 grant through the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

Mayor-elect Charles Snapp attended the meeting and told commissioners that once the grant process is completed, he would like to petition the FAA to incorporate the police firing range into the airport's general plan.

Commissioners also voted to apply for an 80/20 grant from the state to refurbish the airport's tetrahedron, a wind direction indicator from the 1940s, which has been badly damaged by time, storms and strong winds. The airport expects the repairs to cost them approximately $4,000.

Two commissioner's terms will end on Dec. 31, Dan Coker's and Don Cavenaugh's. Coker told the commission he will not be serving another term and they will need to decide at next month's meeting who they want to select as their new chairman. Coker also said that the commission must include one rated pilot. Cavenaugh did not say whether or not he would like to serve another term.

Current commissioners include: Coker, Brett Cooper, Lloyd Clark, Cavenaugh, Gary Kearby, Clay Sloan and Scott Brady.

In other business:

  • commissioners agreed to pay half the cost of the Wings of Honor Museum billboard along Highway 67 North. Museum president Harold Johnson said the lighted sign brings in several people each year. Commissioner Lloyd Clark asked Johnson to keep track of the number of people the sign brings in so the commission and the museum can decide if the price of keeping the sign is worthwhile.

  • it was agreed that the commission will pay to have the airport's 15-year-old bush hog gearbox rebuilt and purchase new blades for it.

  • Airport Manager Michelle Anthony informed the commission that the airport jet fuel system will be cleaned this week, and they will learn if the tank liner is good.

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