Terminal completion set for December

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

CARROLL COUNTY -- A new terminal at the airport should be completed by mid-December.

Members of the Carroll County Airport Commission heard a construction update at a regular monthly meeting Thursday.

Chairman Dave Teigen said the project is a few weeks behind schedule, but some of the delay has come about because of changes made along the way. For example, a large window has been added in the conference room.

At the time of the meeting, workers were completing the installation of insulation, and drywall work was expected to start by Nov. 8.

Teigen urged the commissioners to stop by and observe the progress. He said he had spoken at the Berryville Chamber of Commerce banquet, and invited members of the business community to drive out to the airport for a look. Workers on site noticed an immediate upswing in the number of visitors to the site.

Teigen reported that the project has remained on budget, despite some additions along the way. He credited Strough Construction with a "magnificent" job, and said the contractor has suggested cost-saving measures where appropriate.

A completion date in mid-December is anticipated.

Long-term plans

The commissioners studied drawings which laid out plans to eventually extend the runway to a total of 4,000 feet. The airport already owns enough property for the expansion, although some dirt work would be involved.

This would be at least a three-year project, and a feasibility study and environmental study would be needed as part of the process.

The longer runway would allow larger planes to land, and would also put the airport into a different category for GPS software.

Engineer Dan Clinton, who advises the commission, said obtaining funding would be difficult, but he said the commission should proceed anyway.

Clinton said the airport's current capital improvement plan includes rehabilitating the existing runway over the course of the next few years. The current fueling ramp is expected to receive an asphalt overlay in 2011.

Annual budget

Funding for major projects at the airport come from state and federal grants, but the airport also receives some operating funds from the county.

The commissioners discussed submitting a budget which will be similar to the one submitted in 2009.

A line item may be added for expenses associated with attending conventions and other pilot gatherings, to continue marketing the airport. Another line item was proposed for maintaining courtesy vehicles.

Teigen said he hoped the county would add $7,600 to the airport's budget, and he noted the airport contributed more than $600,000 to the local economy this year with the terminal and south ramp projects, money which came from state and federal grants.

The commissioners also noted that the airport provides space for the county's emergency services.

Miscellaneous

* The south ramp project will be completed by the middle of November, providing more room for parking for visiting planes.

* The commissioners will seek sponsorships to purchase a golf cart to use as a shuttle between the terminal and the south ramp.

* The commissioners voted to go forward with an attempt to acquire 14 acres adjacent to the airport for future expansion needed. The asking price for the property is $130,000, but it was appraised at $96,000. Grants will typically only pay at appraised levels, and the commission will submit an offer contingent upon obtaining a grant.

* The commissioners heard reports of increased fuel sales and traffic counts. "People all over the country are finding out what we're doing," Teigen said.

* Airport Manager Perry Evans said a group of up to 20 planes planned to spend a weekend in Eureka Springs, and the airport would make a courtesy van available to them. Commissioner Lonnie Clark suggested asking motels and restaurants to place discount coupons at the new terminal.

Commissioner Mark Mallett asked to have records kept of the use of the courtesy van, to show what effect it has for local businesses.

* A hangar was demolished, and the site was leveled to accommodate future plans to relocate the fuel tank.

* This was the first meeting for Lloyd Jones, who filled a vacancy left by the resignation of Mary Nelson. Jones is semi-retired from a career in banking, and is a past president of the Holiday Island Rotary and the Holiday Island Chamber of Commerce.

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