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Airport board weighs in on potential court move

WINTERSVILLE — The Jefferson County Regional Airport Authority board met Monday, approving a letter drafted by board president Brandon Reese to be sent to the Jefferson County commissioners.

The letter detailed the airport authority’s position on a potential move of Wintersville County Court into the former Cross Creek Township building at 251 Airpark Drive.

The letter said the court would be “a suitable addition to the county government complex” in addition to the Jefferson County 9-1-1 office and animal shelter.

The renovations needed to accommodate the court and make it “similar to Toronto County Court” would cost an estimated $200,000, the letter said.

It noted there were options for the county and airpark to work together on the cost of renovating the building to accommodate the court.

“We recognize this is a significant amount of money,” the letter said, also noting the airport authority is also looking at other options.

The letter will formally be sent to the commissioners, one of whom, Tony Morelli, was present at the meeting. The letter notes any final decision belongs with the commissioners.

Morelli said the letter would be proper correspondence, but noted the county has others options to consider in relation to the county courts, citing the challenges of balancing the budget this year and in the future – one option being consolidating the courts inside the county justice center.

“For me to do the job that I was elected to do, that I promised to do, I have to take a look at that real hard,” Morelli said.

The hangar construction project was also a topic of discussion, with a couple of actions being taken to continue the project.

Geary Bates, board member and member of the building committee, requested approval of four items. Contracts for asphalt and concrete portions of the project will be above the $50,000 threshold for bidding, so the board approved those two items to be advertised for bids with a plan to approve a contract at the April meeting.

Bates was approved to purchase an additional $10,000 of materials – 500 tons of slag – for work on the project.

Later in the meeting, Rich Stenzel, board vice president who was running the meeting with Reese traveling and participating remotely, proposed a policy change to include the new hangars in the airpark’s wait list policy, which was approved.

Stenzel also asked for the board to start considering potential rent for the new hangars due to growing interest despite the project being about six months away from completion. That will be considered and revisited in April.

Lance Wanamaker of Michael Baker International, the airpark’s consulting firm, called in to update the board on a couple of projects.

Wanamaker said the firm continues to work on design of the taxiway project, incorporating the two connectors decided on at the February board meeting, and was given approval to submit the 90 percent plans and specifications to the FAA prior to the next meeting.

Wanamaker said turf restoration work on the precision approach path indicator light replacement project is just waiting for spring weather, and the contractor on the automated weather observation system has begun clearing for the project this week, a process that will take two to three weeks.

Installation of the system, Wanamaker said, should take place around the end of March.

During his report, airpark manager Brian Thaxton said the winter weather affected airport operations and thanked the staff for snow removal and keeping the airpark running while he was recently in quarantine.

He was given approval to purchase a new computer for the front desk in the terminal building. He also told the board repairs were being made to a heating system at the airpark and a water heater was being replaced inside one of the hangar buildings.

The next meeting is scheduled for April 12.

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