December 24, 2014 Edition

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Airport in danger of
losing military contract

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Regional Airport is likely to lose its military contract after requirements on fuel sales were put in place.

The contract, which will be up in March, is bid every five years. Airport Manager Michelle Anthony said the commission sent out a new bid in August and received a notice that the airport was no longer eligible due to a recent sales requirement that has been put into place.

Airports wishing to keep this military contract have to sell at least 50,000 gallons to the military annually. Anthony said they currently sell about 35,000 per year.

According to Anthony, an exception can be made if enough petitions are made through military bases. Fort Campbell, Fort Knox and Camp Robinson have sent letters of recommendation. Anthony said that people can also write to state representatives and senators to express concerns about the airport losing this contract.

The loss of the military contract will not only hurt the airport financially, but it also hinders plans to make it a center for earthquake relief, which was planned due in part to the contract it held.

Anthony said they have until the end of February. If the contract can't be renewed by then as an exception to the fuel sales requirements, she said it will be nearly impossible to ever get that contract again.

Also at the Dec. 15 meeting:

  • Dan Coker resigned as chairman after fulfilling his current term. This is his ninth year with the commission. He was recognized at the Walnut Ridge Christmas party. Don Cavenaugh was appointed to be the new chairman.

  • the commission accepted an AIP grant of over $600,000 and a state grant that they will receive bids on in January. The money will go toward the airport's tetrahedron, along with marking and signage.

  • a lease committee was formed for incoming commissioners to review leases. The committee consists of Clay Sloan, Lloyd Clark, Cavenaugh and Anthony.

  • commissioners approved the 2015 budget and asset list, which were sent to Walnut Ridge City Council to be passed with the city's budget.

  • the commission increased the airport's line of credit with Regions Bank instead of taking out a loan.

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