Archived Story

Business community supports airport

Published 6:21pm Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lawrence County has a 10-year “Airport Master Plan” in place. It was developed in 1993 and revised in 2003.

Our commissioners and our state and federal governments for the last 20 years felt it was important to develop our airport based on these studies. These plans were done by independent engineering firms using all available criteria and draw the same conclusions.

The plan summary states, “A business class general aviation airport is one major locational criterion that Lawrence County can market to help attract new business and sustain existing businesses. An improved LCA has the potential to improve the quality and safety of the area by accommodating medical flights, supporting agricultural activities, and supporting state and local government activities.”

A 1993 survey of more than 75 employers in the Tri-State revealed: Of those businesses returning surveys, 23 percent indicated they or their customers/suppliers currently use the airpark.

More than 20 percent of the respondents indicated they would consider using the airpark more frequently, or they would base aircraft at the airpark, pending facility improvements. Almost 25 percent of the respondents identified the need for a longer runway, an improved precision approach and ground transportation.

More than 70 percent of the business respondents indicated that the availability of a general aviation airport is important to their business.

Business aviation has increased in the last 20 years. There is no reason to believe these statistics have not also increased over the same time frame and will continue to increase over the next 20 years.

Airport improvements started to take place based on these plans and surveys.

The runway surface and markings were improved. Taxiways were extended. Hangers were built. New fueling facilities were built. Land was acquired for the runway extension. Plans were prepared for lighting critical to night flights and instrument operations. An emanate domain suit was filed to acquire the remaining land necessary to extend the runway.

The FAA has been a key partner in making these improvements deemed necessary by our business community. There is no debt owed to the FAA as long as the airport exists and 90 percent grants are available for all of the improvements.

Extending the runway and improving the lighting to facilitate the instrument approach are the keys to improve the business use of our airport. These three improvements open the airport to many other operations and types of aircraft not currently using the facility.

Air evacuation operations would rather use general aviation airports for their quick turn around abilities. LCA is 10 minutes closer to each of the three Huntington hospitals by ambulance than Tri-State Airport.

Ten minutes of critical time is huge in these types of operations. Ten minutes can mean life or death to a critical patient.

Turboprop and small jet aircraft used by business will operate on this size runway. These improvements open the airport to the fastest growing segment of general aviation, very light jets.

VLJs are the immediate future of general aviation. They are used in air evacuation, charter, fractional ownership, business and prisoner transport.

The long-term future of transportation is by air.

Encourage your commissioners to go forward with a plan to improve our airport. It is vital to the economic development of our community. This could be the single biggest step to more jobs and commerce in our county ever taken by our government.

No sustained economic development has ever taken place without an airport and the better the airport the bigger the economic gains. For those who cite Tri-State Airport as an alternative, maybe that’s why they have three hospitals, the Barboursville Mall, the civic center and more industry and business than us.

Our commissioners closed Lawrence County’s hospital years ago and the prospects of ever having another full hospital in our community are dim, to say the least. LCA is a vital piece of infrastructure to business and community. Don’t let our airport go the same direction.

The chances of ever having another airport are for the most part nonexistent if LCA is allowed to close.

Bill Nenni

Ironton

 

  • Poor Richard

    I do not want to see the airport close, Mr. Nenni, but what I do want is for our county commissioners to stop setting on their hands and do their job. I haven’t seen any marketing by this county for the airport or for any tourism in this county what-so-ever. We have one commissioner trying to do the right thing and get caught up on what is going on – the other two as far as I’m concerned appear useless except for the fact they are like many other local officials before them — just collecting a pay check.

    Again, what are the local officials doing to make the airport profitable for county residents? Useful for county residents? useful for local business owners? This isn’t an amusement park folks.

    Someone fought over who mows the airport a couple of years ago when the long time mower, Mr. Collier, was asked to stop mowing – well, ever since then the airport has looked like crap!!! Wonder what the self-serving motive propelled that decision?

    You will always have supporters of development rather than an airport but if you take a hard look at those supporters, 99.9% have something to gain by a development rather than an airport. Isn’t that the name of the game – self-serving agendas?? This was the same scenario for the Proctorville By-pass, those that attended the meetings (less than 0.5% of the entire county) and supported the by-pass had something to gain (owned property).

    If county officials choose to listen to only those with a self-serving agenda, well, I guess we can see the results.

    Also, in response to MikeHaney’s comment, if I am not mistaken, Memorial Hall was leased or ‘to be marketed’ by the County Chamber of Commerce, so Ironton most likely has another responsible party in the Hall’s demise. I think the LC Chamber director at the time and if I remember the IT articles correctly was a key responsible party in the hospital closing as well. I think between Ironton and the Chamber, they can come up with the money to restore Memorial Hall.

    (Report comment)

  • mikehaney

    Small minds let the Memorial hall fall in and disgrace the people of Ironton and Lawrence County. Small minds let the Hospital close down. Small minds will let the airport close it’s doors for probably a failed shopping center. Small minds like to comment on topics they have no clue about.

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  • mickakers

    Lawrence County Ohio is within the vicinity of Tri-State Airport as the Barboursville Mall, Civic Center and the three hospitals mentioned. There is no need for duplicate Air Service. This would be a waste of taxpayers money. Lawrence County, Ohio – Cabell & Wayne County, West Virginia – Boyd & Greenup County, Kentucky make up the Tri-State Community. This geographical area could be well served by one airport, The Tri-State. Helicopters are used as transport for Medical Emergencies, they do not need an airport. A 1993 survey? a bit outdated and unreliable. How about a 2013 survey? The percentage of employers using the local airpark at that time was rather small.

    (Report comment)

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