By KEVIN BOWDEN
Tennessee’s new director of aeronautics, Bill Orellana, stopped by Everett-Stewart Regional Airport Thursday evening and had some very complimentary things to say about the local airport.
“From the air, the airport looks good,” Orellana told the airport board during its 50-minute meeting Thursday.
He said he was “impressed with the runway” and used such superlatives as “superb” and “pretty dynamic” to describe the local airport.
Orellana told the board it was obvious the airport has “a lot of things going on.”
It was high praise from the state official who assumed his new leadership position about four months ago.
“Your runway is about as good as it’s going to get,” Orellana continued. “Your runway is really great. Your airport looks really, really good.”
Orellana sat in on the airport board’s meeting and got a first-hand account of some of the many projects taking place at the complex.
The airport board’s meeting included a brief but comprehensive report from Chris Grace concerning such airport improvements as security fencing, the runway extension project, the decommissioning of underground fuel tanks, new hangars and electrical and pavement improvements.
Grace was at the meeting representing the Barge, Waggoner, Sumner & Cannon consulting firm, which works with the airport board as an engineering consulting firm.
Two key matters were brought up during Thursday’s meeting — plans for a new water well and a discussion of a proposed new building for the local Civil Air Patrol unit.
Rather than spending an estimated $800,000 to extend the existing water lines to a planned new agricultural complex at the airport, the board moved forward with a proposal to drill a water well on the airport site.
Union City alderman Johnny Bacon met with the board, representing city manager Kathy Dillon, whom he said was out of town. Bacon said due to the high cost of extending the water line, the city is proposing spending about $6,250 to drill a four-inch well to provide water for the crop dusting businesses at the airport.
He offered, on behalf of Union City, to cover one-third of the cost to install the water well (about $2,000). The intent of his proposal was to have Weakley County and Obion County cover the other two-thirds of the cost for the well.
“We’re ready to go forward on it at any time,” Bacon told the board.
“That sounds really good,” Weakley County representative Mike Holman said.
“It sounds reasonable to me,” Jimmy Westbrook of Weakley County added.
“Everett-Stewart Region-al Airport Board, with the support of Obion and Weakley counties, continues to move forward to promote the economic growth and future development of northwest Tennessee,” airport manager Jo Ann Speer told The Messenger after the meeting. “The airport is a business tool used for attracting potential industry and business to this region and retaining and enhancing existing business and industry.”
Obion County Mayor Benny McGuire was in attendance at the meeting, but made no comment on the proposal at the meeting.
The airport board is also going to have to work with the state Department of Environment and Conservation on the well, and will seek federal funding assistance to cover some of the costs for the project.
A contingency representing the local Civil Air Patrol was in attendance at the meeting to request support for a proposed CAP building at the airport. A 100-foot-by-60-foot facility is being proposed by the CAP, including an activity area and office space.
“I tried to propose something that’s multi-use,” CAP representative Jon Clark said as he passed around a proposed layout for the building.
“We will make a place available for you to have it,” airport board chairman Dr. Chris Gooch told the CAP group.
In other action, the airport board:
• Briefly discussed the need to speed up its plans to develop a maintenance hangar at the airport, considering the businessman planning to open the hangar is now being recruited by the Dyersburg airport.
• Was given an update on eight upcoming airport-related meetings by Mrs. Speer.
• Announced the next board meeting will be held at 7 a.m. April 19. At that meeting, the board is expected to go over its annual audit report.
Staff Reporter Kevin Bowden may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in The Messenger 3.16.12