March 30, 2016 Edition

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Fuel farm is priority for airport

Megan Heyl
Staff Writer

The Walnut Ridge Regional Airport Commission voted to move forward on a new fuel farm, which houses the on-site fuel the airport sells.

While the current farm is operational and isn't a major safety concern yet, Airport Manager Michelle Anthony has made its replacement a priority as the farm is over 40 years old and is showing signs of rust.

While grant money may become available in June, commissioners agreed that even if the grant isn't there, it's in the best interest of the airport to move forward with the bidding process and try to get the farm built. A new farm would take nine months to build and would require testing after that before it could be used.

Previous attempts to replace or update the current farm have been tabled due to insufficient funds. If a grant does not become available, the airport would have to take out a loan to pay for the project.

While a loan is not ideal, the commission agreed that the fuel farm is crucial to the operation of the airport, in retaining its military contract and the airport's role as a state staging area in case of a natural disaster.

In other business:

the building of a ditch on farmland leased by Ronald Cavenaugh has been delayed to assess if the site is considered wetlands. Previous surveying shows that wetlands is a possibility and the commission agreed that they needed to know for sure before moving forward on the project.

Anthony requested repairs on a 500-yard section of drainage pipe within the airport's safety zone. The job will be done by Clark General Contractors, Inc.

commissioners approved the appraisal of land in a proposed swap with the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce. Once a fair trade is assessed, it will be sent to the Federal Aviation Administration for approval.

appraisal of land Black River Technical College has been leasing for its fire training program showed the value at $16,000 per acre. The land, which is owned by the airport, contains some structures owned by BRTC. Chair Don Cavenaugh said he would contact Dr. Eric Turner, BRTC president, to determine what the college would do with the property should they purchase.

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