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Airport lighting project to go out to bid again

CHESAPEAKE — Getting lighting upgrades at the Lawrence County Airport is among the first priorities of the newly formed county airport advisory committee.

“It is moving along pretty good,” committee member Bill Nenni said. “It appears we are going to bid for a lighting project for the airport.”

The project, designed by E.L. Robinson Engineering, is to install radio-activated lighting on both ends of the runways.

“Right now they have to keep the lights on to help someone see the runway,” Patrick Leighty of E.L. Robinson, said. “With this the pilots could control the lights by clicks of their radio.”

The project was originally bid in July of 2011, but the single bid that came in more than 10 percent above the engineer’s estimate of $150,000. Leighty expects the project to go to bid in the next month.

The advisory panel was created in December by the Lawrence County Commissioners with the directive to study a management plan created by the Tri-State Pilots’ Association. The TSPA’s taking over the daily operation of the airport was the result of Attitude Aviation, the former director, pulling out.

The panel, which meets every other week at 8:30 a.m. Mondays at the courthouse, is focusing on projects to improve the airport.

“The FAA provides $150,000 a year to small airports if you have something to spend it on,” Chesapeake Mayor Dick Gilpin, also a committee member, said. “We have lost two years’ worth of financing because we didn’t have a plan in effect. We are trying to get our plans in line to take advantage of these grants.”

Other projects the panel is pursuing include lengthening the runways, building more hangars and upgrading the communications system.

“It is something that is needed and any community that has had an airport it has helped them economically,” Gilpin said. “This is the only airport in the county.”

Right now there are approximately 50 planes at the airport whose owners have tie-down or hangar leases with the county.

“We would like to have at least 100 airplanes parked there,” Gilpin said. “It would help with the finances. Lease tie-downs, fuel sales and repairs. You would have the whole package.”

The committee’s next meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. May 7 at the commission chambers.