January 21, 2015 Edition

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Airport to keep military contract

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

During Monday's Airport Commission meeting, Airport Manager Michelle Anthony said several positive connections were made in regards to the airport's military contract, which was at risk due to insufficient military fuel sales. She received word from the Defense Logistics Agency Tuesday that they are waiving the sales requirement and allowing the airport to keep its contract.

Also at Monday's meeting, commissioners discussed how to use an Arkansas Department of Aeronautics grant, which was recently applied for.

The grant application was sent out with intentions of using the funding for runway striping, out-of-compliance signage replacements and repairs on the tetrahedron, a wind direction indicator from the 1940s, however there is still time to make adjustments.

Commission Chair Don Cavenaugh said he is concerned how far the $200,000 from the grant would stretch. He said estimates show the striping and signs alone could cost that much, which would leave the airport to pay the difference on the approximately $18,000 in tetrahedron repairs.

Airport Engineer Stacy Morris will be consulted on costs and needs before making a final decision but there are also other benefits to removing the tetrahedron from the grant application.

"I'd like to have it done locally under our supervision and see that it's done right," Cavenaugh said. There are very few tetrahedrons left in the country and to leave the work at the discretion of a bid process raises concerns for the commission.

Commissioners voted to give the authority to Cavenaugh to make the decision on the tetrahedron after meeting with Morris. Removing it from the grant application should not harm their chances of getting the funding as the tetrahedron is not considered a safety concern.

Cavenaugh said his main concern is that the tetrahedron is going to put them over budget for the grant and the airport would have to pay for it anyway. By leaving it off, the commission would have more control over who makes the repairs and how they're done.

In other business:

  • commissioners voted to hire Bob Johnson, partner with General Aviation Consulting Services, as a consultant on leases. He will be paid at an hourly rate as needed. Cavenaugh said they will keep costs down by only utilizing him when absolutely necessary, but there is a need for someone with an outside opinion who understands FAA requirements.

  • the commission opted to not lock-in the airport's liability insurance for a three-year price guarantee in favor of keeping it at a yearly contract and having the ability to shop around in the future.

  • discussions were held on changing the meeting time to evening hours. It was tabled until next meeting to allow a list of available times to be made that won't conflict with commissioners' schedules.

  • Anthony asked the commissioners to consider aspects of the airport they would like to get more involved with on a volunteer basis.

  • Cavenaugh announced that he has plans to meet with the Northeast Arkansas Gun Club of Walnut Ridge in regards to creating a new lease agreement in line with FAA requirements. Commissioner Lloyd Clark said no matter how airtight it is, it's still unlikely the FAA will approve it.

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