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News Request for USO celebration up in the air

The Airport Authority will meet on Tuesday, Aug. 6, to hear construction bids for the proposed runway widening.At Tuesday's monthly Airport Authority meeting, W.K. Dickson, a consulting firm, was supposed to open up bidding for the runway widening that will likely take place this fall, but no representative was on hand to do so. Since that business could not be addressed, the authority had only one item to consider.

Bob Scott approached the board to discuss a previous request of allowing REACH to honor veterans by having a USO (United Service Organizations) night sometime in November. The event would serve as a fund raiser and would host a band that would play USO-type music. His hope was that the board would allow the use of its large hangar to house the event.

“I just wanted to come back and get an update on the use of the hangar for the USO event,” said Scott. “I think this is a great opportunity for everybody involved and that it would help build good relations with the community.”

Though the authority supported Scott's request, the underlying issue was the floor of the proposed hangar. After decades of oil leaks from aircraft being parked inside, it must be cleaned to avoid potential hazards. Estimated costs of such a project that would include pressure washing and applying epoxy treatment would land in the ball park of about $6,000.

“I think I can say on behalf of the board that we do support your request, but when it comes down to our budgeted money, we just have the funding for it. We want to do, but we can't financially,” Chairman Milles Gregory told Scott. “Have you looked at trying to get volunteers to help?”

Scott was unsure whether volunteer labor would be able to help his cause.

Board member and Economic Development director Tommy Jenkins considered the numbers for the work and talked up the volunteer idea.

“If we could possibly get a good deal on the materials and it wasn't all that much, do you think you could get volunteers?” he asked.

“I understand that money is tight. We could just go back to square one and have it on the ramp instead. We wanted to bring in some old antique aircraft and I thought that having it in the hangar would be neat,” he said.

After some consideration, Gregory made a final suggestion to getting the work done in the hangar.

“It may be a possible, and we'd have to check into the logistics, but the job corps may be willing to do the pressure washing and probably anything else that you need done. They have programs and equipment.”

Jenkins made a motion for Gregory to contact the Job Corps about resurfacing the hangar. The motion carried unanimously.

The board chose to recess instead of adjourning the meeting so that they can meet back on Aug. 6 for the bid opening at 1 p.m. Once a bid is decided upon, the authority will approach the county commissioners to request the funds.

“Since our inception, we've always had the full support of the commissioners. Requests we've made have always passed unanimously. I've talked to some of them about it and I'm just hoping that we can continue to have cooperation,” said Gregory.

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