WINTERSVILLE - Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority members are hoping at some point to get funding for an additional worker, even if it's on a part-time basis.
At Monday's meeting, the authority discussed efforts to upgrade the airport and the need to ensure the services they offer the flying public measure up.
"We're open from 9 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.), an airport needs to be open later than that," member Earl Muenze said. "I think you've got to expand so when you need people, (they're here). You may need to have them here earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon to accommodate (flyers)."
TALKING IT OVER — Listening to a discussion Monday on the need for another worker and reliable equipment at the Jefferson County Airpark were, from left, board members Sue Hershey, Charles Edwards and Earl Muenze. - Linda Harris
But Muenze and authority members Cathy Cucarese and Sue Hershey also pointed out that having equipment in good working order to, say, clear a runway after a heavy snowfall, is also an issue.
"It doesn't help to be full-time if you don't have equipment," Cucarese said, while Hershey pointed out they can win over new business, "then lose it if we don't have equipment" that works.
"We desperately need some equipment, we really do," Muenze agreed.
Muenze, meanwhile, said he thinks "more flexible-type scheduling" will be needed down the road, "(And) to get flexibility, we don't need a bunch of part-time people. We need full-time."
Authority members, meanwhile, were told the airport extension is in a holding pattern until the county gets letters of commitment from the state. The extension, which would add about 500 feet to the runway's length, would enable them to safely land bigger planes in all kinds of weather.
The state is interested in helping bankroll the project, which could cost in the $2 million range, largely because Utica shale development is bringing so many oil-and-gas related companies to the valley. A 25 percent local match still would be required to move the project forward, and the airport authority already has agreed to borrow the money.
"It's not actually in limbo, they're moving (forward)," Authority President Mike Menzel said. "It depends on when they give us the money and how fast Richland (the project engineer) can get things moving. We might still be able to do some of it, maybe move in some direction" before winter.
In other action, the board signed off on a streamlined version of the 18-page hangar rental agreement that had been in use and also agreed to use New Philadelphia-based Charles G. Snyder Co. to appraise five parcels as required by the Federal Aviation Administration, subject to FAA approval.
Airport Manager Jason Whanger also told the authority they'd averaged 17 operations a day during April, with a total of 498 for the entire month.