Airport expansion moves ahead with plans for liaison, larger committee

November 24, 1994|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

A liaison to coordinate efforts between county government and the Carroll County Regional Airport should be hired by Dec. 15, county officials told a group of local business leaders yesterday.

In addition, the committee that oversees management of the airport has been expanded to 14 members, J. Michael Evans, county director of general services told the Carroll County Economic Development Commission.

"Much of it is representatives from the departments that serve the airport," Mr. Evans said. "We've had a similar organization going for a number of years that doesn't include the pilots or the residents."

Since plans for the airport expansion surfaced, representatives from the county departments -- general services, management and budget, finance, public works, recreation and parks, and economic development -- have been meeting quarterly with the two airport operators to discuss construction issues, he said.

Now the committee -- which will include an area resident and representatives from the pilots' association, the Economic Development Commission, the Industrial Development Authority and the Air Business Center owners' association -- will be concerned with management and future economic development of the airport, Mr. Evans said.

Harold Weinberg and Jerry Witcomb will represent the pilots' association and Patti McDonald of Indian Valley Trails is the resident on the committee, Mr. Evans said.

"We call ourselves the 'Breakfast Club' " he said, because the group usually meets at 7:30 a.m. at Bullock's Airport Inn. "We've sent out letters to the committee members. I'd like to schedule our first meeting for sometime in January."

Mr. Evans said the new 5,100-foot runway, which was started in September 1993, officially opened Nov. 15.

All that remains to be done in the $11 million project -- to be completed next spring -- is to convert the former runway into a taxiway, finish erosion controls, and complete electrical work and signage.

"It really looks good," Mr. Evans said.

Committee members will now start working to obtain grants for a precision instrument landing system to help planes land in bad weather, Mr. Evans said. Estimates for the system, which would not be installed for several years, are $1.5 million, he said.

Pilots must now land by sight only and cannot use the airport if any clouds are lower than 800 feet.

The instrument system, while still requiring pilots to land by sight, would allow them to use Carroll County Regional Airport if the clouds were down to 200 feet.

"The technology is changing very quickly now," said Mr. Evans, adding that the county may end up installing a system that relies on global satellites rather than a radio tower installed five miles away from the airport near the Pennsylvania border.

The new county liaison, who will report to Mr. Evans, will be responsible for coordinating efforts between government agencies and June Poage, president of Westair, one of the companies that manage the airport.

"For example, Keith Kirschnick, through public works, is responsible for snow removal, and Richard Soisson in recreation and parks is responsible for cutting the grass," Mr. Evans said. "The employee would coordinate the activities of the various agencies."

County officials advertised the position, which will pay $30,000 to $35,000 per year, in local newspapers and on the county bulletin boards, he said.

"If we're not satisfied with that, there are a couple of publications for airport management we can advertise in," Mr. Evans said. "But, I don't think we'll need to do that.

"We should have gotten a good number based on the phone calls I've gotten."

Applications for the position are due Tuesday, he said.

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