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Airport board has ‘wish list’

June 5, 2012
By LINDA HARRIS - Business editor ( , The Herald-Star

WINTERSVILLE - With more jet activity than ever, the Jefferson County Airport Authority is hoping for more money for equipment.

At Monday's meeting, the board discussed its "wish list" for the airstrip, which includes major purchases like a new, reliable snow plow to keep the runway clear in winter and an Automated Weather Observation System. Though costly - estimates run to nearly $500,000 - an AWOS helps pilots safely land in inclement weather.

Both are vital, they said, especially now that the airport is getting a much-needed 500-foot runway extension that will allow it to accommodate bigger jets.

Article Video

Jefferson County Airport Authority President Mike Menzel talks about the importance of an AWOS syste

"(Pilots) need to know what the weather conditions are on the ground at this location so they can understand the conditions they'll be (flying) into at the airport," authority President Mike Menzel said. "Without that knowledge, they can't file and shoot an approach here in bad weather. Using weather reports from five miles away or one mile away doesn't (work)."

Menzel said he's not sure if the uptick in business is strictly shale related or not. Either way, he said it's a welcome change.

"There's definitely been an increase in traffic," he said.

Article Photos

Linda Harris
CHECKING THE NUMBERS — Jefferson County Airport Authority board member Cathy Cucarese looks over spending needs during Monday’s meeting at the airpark.

The discussion surfaced as board members mulled their funding request for 2013, a process they said is just in the beginning stages. Initial funding estimates are due at the commissioners' office next week, though they said the actual budget discussions are months away.

The idea, authority Secretary Gary Folden said, is to give the commissioners thinking points - an idea of what might be needed at the airport as they go forward in the budget process to keep in mind as the process unfolds.

"We need to show the commissioners what we need, it's not necessarily what's going to be in the budget," Folden said, though board members indicated they're hoping to see about a $50,000 boost in next year's appropriation.

"Because of our increased activity and needs, we're anticipating growth, so we're requesting they increase our allotment to $140,000," he said, though noting that it's merely a request. Commissioners will make a final appropriations' determination later in the year.

Folden told the authority its consultant, Richland Engineering, is hoping to be able to tap into as much as $272,000 in federal funding for the AWOS system.

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