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Commissioners approve plans to reconstruct airport runway

The Johnson County commissioners met this past Thursday in the upper room of the county courthouse. It was business as usual as the meeting was quickly underway.
With all of the commissioners in attendance, the first order of business was the motion to approve the budget amendments. Having already passed within the budget committee, this action item was quickly approved. Members of the various committees had previously submitted their quarterly reports for approval. Trustee Sue Hensley reported that her office had begun collecting the yearly property taxes. Commissioner Pleasant made a motion to approve the reports, with Commissioner Milsaps seconding the motion. All votes were yes, the motion was carried. The commissioners also approved three new notaries for the county and the bonds for three county officials, to include the mayor, constable and deputy sheriff.
Mayor Potter asked the commissioners to approve a $10,572 grant from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development for library computer equipment. “We have a wonderful library,” Potter said. “This will help out a little bit more.” The motion was passed to approve the grant.
The commissioners also approved a request from Sheriff Reece declaring certain property as surplus, giving him permission to auction non-usable and surplus equipment, including six Motorola radios. These radios are not compatible with the new system that is to be implemented. “This equipment should sell,” Reece said.
Road Superintendent Tony Jennings came before the commissioners to ask for a written resolution in reference to procedures for ditching dirt. Jennings explained that when his department is ditching dirt, often people in the area ask for the dirt. He explained that the dirt unearthed during road work often contains rocks and debris. After lengthy discussion on Jennings’ current procedures for removing dirt, a motion was made for Jennings and county attorney Bill Cockett to work together and prepare a resolution stating such methods along with a release or waiver should private citizens wish to have the dirt deposited onto their property. This will be reviewed at next month’s meeting.
Mayor Potter discussed the potential funding of a $1,600,000 grant for full depth reconstruction of the airport runway. The runway is approximately 20 years old, and while repaved just seven to eight years ago, there are cracks and holes present. If the runway is in disrepair, it could lead to the closing of the airport. The county’s contribution to this project would be 10 percent of the grant, or $160,000. This can be divided into two payments. Potter asked the commissioners to approve the expenditure of the $160,000 for the Johnson County Airport. “We’re getting a lot of money from the state,” said Potter. This particular grant does not have anything to do with a possible extension of the runway. There is a possibility that the cost of the project will be less than the projected $1,600,000, reducing Johnson County’s contribution. The process of a full depth reconstruction is specialized, and according to Jennings, just to patch the current cracks and holes in the runway would cost more than $160,000. According to Johnson County Airport manager, Bob Johnson, “The cracks are migrating.” Johnson added that the full depth reconstruction should almost double its weight-carrying capacity. A motion was approved to supply the requested 10 percent of the total cost for the full depth reconstruction of the airport runway.
Commissioner Jonathan Pleasant addressed the commissioners with regard to the construction of a WINGS helicopter landing pad in the Dry Run Community, allowing transportation of critical patients to a medical facility. Dry Run’s fire chief, Ray Lunceford, added that a landing pad of a minimum of 100 by 100 would be necessary for the helicopter to land. According to Lunceford, Baker’s Gap Church offered to donate a grassy area for this landing area. Lunceford added that this location is in a remote area with no power lines, allowing the helicopter to get in and out of the area quickly. Jennings estimated the cost would be approximately $10,000 to install. According to Lunceford, Dry Run Fire Department does not have the funds necessary for the project. After much discussion as to the non-profit status of both Baker’s Gap Church and the fire department, the item was tabled pending further discussion. Potter suggested the possibility of a grant to help with the project.
Mayor Potter also asked the commissioners permission to clean out a storage area that contains old and discarded items. He also indicated that the building on Cold Springs Road also needs to be cleaned out. Permission was granted. Commissioner Grindstaff asked for the approval of the commissioners to have a plaque made for the family of Carl Wolfe in recognition of his service to the county. Wolfe volunteered his time at the recycling center and recently passed away. The motion was passed. The meeting was adjourned at approximately 8:18 pm.