March 25, 2015 Edition

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Airport Commission
discusses new building

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

During Monday night's meeting, the Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commission discussed constructing a new building to be leased to Allied Agcat, which is working toward a centralized, expanded business.

All of the company's related businesses would be incorporated into this building and Mayor Charles Snapp said they plan on adding as many as 25 jobs within the first couple of years of operation.

The proposal is for the airport to build a 35,000-square-foot building, which could be paid for through grants awarded to the airport. The airport would retain ownership of the building.

Snapp said the company should know by Aug. 1 if they are able to expand. In the meantime, the lease on the hangar they are renting at the north end of the airport is up. The commission agreed to allow them to renew their lease on a month-to-month basis until Aug. 1 to allow them time to develop a plan before entering another long-term lease.

Commission Chair Don Cavenaugh said he is optimistic about the expansion. "It would create jobs, and it would be great economic development for Walnut Ridge," Cavenaugh said.

Also at the meeting, C.L. Clark brought up concerns regarding drainage problems at the airport. He said the commission needed to start saving now because it will require an overhaul in the future that would incur major expenses.

Airport Manager Michelle Anthony said there have been six drainage failures since she's been there. There are also several sinkholes that have developed in connection with drainage issues.

While federal grants are not available for these repairs, Anthony said she will speak with FEMA and the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics to see if they have any advice. She will also attempt to make contact with several politicians to see if they can provide assistance in acquiring funding.

In other business:

  • Anthony announced that if everything goes through with the 80/20 ADA grant for striping, signage and other improvements, then the project is set to start on May 18.

  • the commission agreed to table a 90/10 grant from ADA, which would pay for 90 percent of a project cost up to a certain amount, leaving the airport to pay the rest. Anthony said the cost of the project, a new fuel farm, would likely exceed the grant amount, leaving the airport with a greater sum to pay out of pocket. Anthony will continue researching the project, and the commission will revisit it in the next couple of months.

  • the commission was made aware of another possible 90/10 ADA grant. Anthony said the announcement will be made on April 8 and the grant is expected to get applications quickly. The commission voted to allow Anthony to proceed in the application process if it is a 90/10 grant, but Cavenaugh said he would still like to call a special meeting, if possible, once the information is released.

  • the commission authorized Anthony to hire an additional full-time lineman/maintenance employee.

  • Anthony informed the commission that the April and May meeting times will need to be adjusted. The April meeting will still be on April 27 but the commission will meet at noon instead of 6 p.m. The May meeting will be held on May 18 due the Memorial Day holiday on the fourth Monday and will also be held at noon as to not conflict with Walnut Ridge City Council.

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