May 6, 2015 Edition

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Airport Commission authorizes
pursuit of grant for new facility

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Airport Commission authorized Walnut Ridge Mayor Charles Snapp to pursue a Delta Regional Authority States' Economic Development Assistance Program grant to use in the building of a new facility.

During Thursday's meeting, Snapp provided more information about an ongoing project with Allied AgCat, which includes an expanded business centering on remanufacturing and shipping aircraft.

The plan stands for the airport to build and retain ownership of the facility to house this new expansion.

Snapp will proceed to apply for the $200,000 to $300,000 grant. Snapp also said that additional help from East Arkansas Planning and Development District would be available.

"If our combined efforts could secure this consolidation and expand production as planned, within the next five or six years, Walnut Ridge could be home to the only new aircraft manufacturing and training facility in the state of Arkansas," Snapp said.

To allow time to secure the grant and move forward with groundbreaking, the commission extended Allied AgCat's lease on its current facility from six months to a year.

Officials said they should know about the grant by the third quarter of the year, with groundbreaking to be about a year out if the project gets funded.

In other business, a bid for airport maintenance in the final amount of $466,000 was awarded to Clark General Contractors. Work to be done includes runway striping, making repairs to the 1940s tetrahedron and installing signs, a PAPI approach light and windsocks.

A $400,000 Arkansas Department of Aeronautics 80/20 grant will be used to cover the repairs, which will leave about $100,000 for the airport to pay after the engineer fee.

Another ADA grant recently became available and will be used to do necessary concrete repairs. The 90/10 grant is only offered once about every 10 years, according to Airport Manager Michelle Anthony.

The bid for concrete repairs was awarded to Clark General Contractors at $490,875, leaving a range of $55,000 to $77,000 to be paid by the airport.

All work is scheduled to be done this summer.

Also at the meeting:

the commission approved Chair Don Cavenaugh to pursue a loan for at least $200,000 using the Allegis building as collateral. The loan would be used to aid in repairs to be done over the summer.

Anthony informed the commission that the airport's fuel tanks, which are 45 years old, have little life left in them. She recommended that the commission consider using the next ADA 80/20 grant available starting in July to upgrade the system. She said she would like to see a 6,000-gallon Avgas tank and a 15,000-gallon jet fuel tank installed, if possible.

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