The Pulaski County Council has had several questions concerning the operations at the county’s airport, Arens Field, and manager Bud Widner was at the council’s Monday meeting to answer questions by the council members.
At the last meeting, the council members voiced concerns about the payment for fuel. There was a dispute over how much money the county should be receiving for the fuel that has been used and how much was in the fuel tank when the full-time employment began. That part has been ironed out and accounted for but the method of payment for fuel by customers was discussed briefly.
The Pulaski County Commissioners and Pulaski County Council members met in joint session to clarify some questions that have arisen concerning the airport.
The issues that the council members discussed during their meeting last week was if Airport Manager Bud Wagner’s position with the county needs to be full time and about the revenue coming into the airport.
Jim McDaniels of the Arens Field Airport told the commissioners this week that the runway is in need of maintenance. He says that Broken Arrow usually performs the work but when McDaniels asked for an estimate, he says the cost was extremely high. He approached the commissioners in search of a solution.
One recommendation was to have the county highway department rent a piece of equipment called an asphalt tar kettle, which is used to resurface roads and runways. Unfortunately, the question remains: who’s going to pay for it?
The Winamac Town Board approved a request to buy additional insurance for the airport.
Town Manager Jim Conner told the Town Board that he had received an email from Budd Insurance Agency about the Town’s purchase of liability insurance for Arens Field. It was suggested that the Town purchase a $5 million Public Officials Liability Insurance to cover the Town’s portion of the airport costs. The cost from now until September would be $450 and a renewal will cost $1,344 in September.
Several citizens of Pulaski County approached the Commissioners with a slide presentation detailing many issues and potentially false figures with the proposed airport expansion project. The presentation also argued the reasoning behind the proposal.
One of the reasons that was given for the airport expansion project was that increasing the length of the Arens Field runway to 5,005 feet would decrease insurance premiums for corporate aircraft. In the presentation, insurance premiums are “based on pilot age and experience, history of claims, expected hours of operations.” Also, the Airport Layout Plan states that the proposed action would have no effect on business or economic activity in the project area or local public service demands.
Several alleged discrepancies in the initial Environmental Assessment for the Pulaski County Airport Expansion project and other reports were recently noted by Derrick Dilts, a resident of Pulaski County whose land would be affected by the acquisition required for the expansion.
Many of the individuals who attended last night’s public hearing regarding the Pulaski County Airport Expansion Project were a bit surprised. Most of the people expected a more direct form of a question and answer session, but were instead greeted with a court stenographer to whom they could address their questions, or a “question box” in which to drop their query. Various information displays on whiteboards were propped up throughout the snow removal building for people to glean information from, along with several tables with plans, layouts, and other displays set out. Individuals were free to roam the snow removal building to examine all the information.
The Pulaski County Airport expansion project is still a very hot topic, as Chris Smith approached the Commissioners this week to ask about the process to close a road. The proposed expansion for the airport would require the closure of road 100 West, in addition to a large amount of land acquisition from citizens. Many residents feel that this is not only unnecessary, but that it would violate many of their rights.
Nearly 20 citizens of Pulaski County packed into the Commissioners’ meeting room to dispute the expansion of the county airport. The Pulaski County Airport Association Board has been looking into expanding their runway by 800 feet, which would allow larger corporate aircraft to land at their airport without jeopardizing their insurance, but the expansion requires the closure of road 100 West, as well as the acquisition of land from citizens. Everyone, from farmers to pilots, had something to say regarding the issue.