February 24, 2016 Edition

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Commission discusses drainage

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Airport Commission discussed drainage issues and concerns regarding farmland boundaries at Monday night's meeting.

Recent farmland lessee Ronald Cavenaugh proposed adjustments made to the boundaries on the farmland he is to work at the airport. He proposed pulling back on the property lines to have all farmable land outside of the runway approach zone.

Ronald offered to build a six-inch burm around the farmable land that would serve as the new boundary for his and future farm workers. He also proposed the digging of a shallow ditch to improve drainage along one side of the farmland.

Also noted was several large holes in the farmland resulting from failings in the underground drainage system, which Ronald said he would build burms around as a safety precaution. The commission approved the building of the burms and ditch and agreed that the farmland needed to be assessed after the new boundaries were in place so that the lessee would only be charged for the farmable land.

The conversation on drainage didn't end there though, and while the installation of a ditch will aid in the farmland, the underground system is required inside the airport's safety zone.

Airport Manager Michelle Anthony said most of the issues are with the various inlets, however there are areas where the pipes are failing. A recent repair on a 20-foot stretch of pipe cost $4,000. The 36-inch, metal corrugated pipes are still for the most part providing drainage for the airport, but several failings have been found in the couplings of the pipes. One pipe failing resulting in a sinkhole has developed since an inspection only a month and a half ago, according to Anthony.

A few failings were noted as bad enough that they needed to be addressed this year. Beyond that the commissioners agreed that replacements should be done as the need arises and the money is available.

They also discussed the possibility of running a two-foot pipe within the existing three-foot pipe. Anthony confirmed that running a smaller pipe had been discussed but she wasn't sure how viable an option it is.

The commission requested a group tour of the airport to look over the state of the drainage and also to get a better understanding of how the airport is laid out. They set the tour for March 3 at 2:30 p.m.

Also at the meeting:

the commission heard from Byron Gray, an Eastern Aviation Fuels, Inc., representative, which the airport currently holds their fuel contract with. He offered advice on prices, equipment and analyzing traffic flow.

commissioners approved the following purchases by Anthony: LED tester at less than $500, hose for fuel truck at $800-$900 should the repair fund held with Eastern Aviation be depleted and unable to cover the cost of the hose and a replacement part for the airport's ODAL approach light system at $2,700 if the current part cannot be fixed.

Airport Commission Chair Don Cavenaugh appointed Scott Brady and Clay Sloan to the airport's farm committee.

a list of merchandise to be listed in the Walnut Ridge spring auction was approved.

the Allied Agcat lease was extended to December 2017, which will give the company time to develop plans for a proposed expansion.

Anthony said she is concerned that grant money will not be available to replace the airport's current fuel farm and requested the commissioners to look into other funding options.

commissioners authorized the hiring of Bob Connor to aid in air traffic control during the airport's airfield reunion on May 7. Connor will not be a paid employee but will work under the airport's liability insurance for that one day. The airport will also cover Connor's room and board.

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