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More changes coming to airport

More changes coming to airport

By KEVIN BOWDEN
Staff Reporter
Even more changes are coming at Everett-Stewart Regional Airport.
The airport runway extension is complete, work is ongoing on a new access road to the airport and now airport commissioners are moving forward with plans to establish a compound to handle crop dusting operations.
There are already two crop dusting operations set up at the local airport and now a third operator has expressed interest in setting up shop at the airport.
Alex Londe of Jackson has contacted local airport officials and his interest has prompted the local airport commission to proceed with plans to establish an area alongside the runway to build new hangars for crop dusters.
“I think it would be very beneficial for the airport,” Obion County University of Tennessee Extension Service office director Tim Smith told the commission.
The cost for the agri-business zone has been estimated at $1.5 million to $1.7 million, according to the airport’s project manager, Randy Hudgings.
The Everett-Stewart Regional Airport Commis-sion met at 8 a.m. Thursday at the airport terminal and the near hour and a half meeting was dominated by discussions of farming matters.
Hudgings recommended the airport commission proceed with the project in phases. Also, the commission will pursue grants to help finance the project.
In another farm related matter, the airport commission was informed Austin Gregory Farms of Newbern submitted the highest bid — $238 per acre — to rent the airport’s farmland. A total of 11 farmers submitted bids to farm the airport’s farmland, according to Smith.
Smith said the high bid is “a really good price” and he said he was “satisfied” with the top bid.
There is a separate 16-acre farm site owned by the airport that will be farmed by Dowdy Farms, which will pay the airport $140 an acre to farm the plot.
Smith attended Thursday’s airport commission meeting and said the high bid to lease the airport property was scheduled to be considered at a meeting Thursday night of the county’s agriculture committee. Smith said the Austin Gregory Farms bid will ultimately have to be approved by the county commission next month.
Also during Thursday’s airport commission meeting, Hudgings provided an update on 10 different airport projects he is overseeing.
This has been an incredibly busy year at the local airport and the commission has added two more projects to its agenda. Airport manager Jo Ann Speer was authorized to move forward with plans to develop an airport brochure and the airport commission will seek proposals to upgrade the airport’s website.
Mrs. Speer estimated it will cost between $1,700-$1,900 for 10,000 tri-fold brochures. She and commission member Wayne McReight will look into securing a corporate sponsor for the brochures and will report back to the commission.
Mrs. Speer said she already has a bid of $1,000 from Steve Holt to upgrade the airport’s website, but the commission pushed to seek other proposals before making a decision. Mrs. Speer said the airport’s website needs to be “cleaner, fresher and more modern-looking.”
The commission also discussed the possibility of securing corporate sponsors for the brochures and the website upgrade.
In other action Thursday, the commission:
• Voted to reject a $30,000 request from Ford Construction Co. for additional asphalt work done on the runway after the company’s original work didn’t meet specifications. Mrs. Speer and Hudgings will consult with county attorney Steve Conley to discuss the matter.
• Was shown a framed state proclamation presented by state Rep. Bill Sanderson recognizing the success of the 2011 Airport Extravaganza. The resolution is on display in the airport terminal.
• Was informed by Mrs. Speer that the airport has been designated as a drop-off location for Chimes for Charity.
The airport commission’s next scheduled meeting has been set for 5 p.m. Dec. 1 at the terminal.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at kmbowden@ucmessenger.com.

Published in The Messenger 10.21.11

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