Airport board agrees to rent hangar space to private pilots|[1/13/06]

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 13, 2006

Private pilots may soon be able to rent hangar space at Vicksburg Municipal Airport under a decision made by members of the management board Thursday.

The vote was 4-0 by members Kimble Slaton, Don Brown, Jay Kilroy and Donald Cross to hire Allen & Hoshall, a Ridgeland, Miss., engineering firm, to prepare a site plan for the T-hangars.

The firm also provided engineering services to design new lights for the airport in 2005.

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The seven-member Airport Board was created by the City Board in August to oversee operation, repairs and improvements of the 55-year-old facility on U.S. 61 South, once slated for closure.

A problem identified by the board has been the lack of rental space for aircraft storage. Existing hangars are privately owned.

The board doesn’t have a source for construction funding, but, when built, rentals would cover the cost.

Board members were also updated on a radio-controlled lighting switch for runways. The mechanism allows approaching pilots to switch lights along the one-mile runway on at night as opposed to leaving them on all the time. The $3,500 cost was paid with money left from a $650,000 state grant received three years ago for runway improvements.

Slaton, board president, said the system should be operational soon. &#8220All we have to do is wait for it to be installed,” he said.

About $40,000 of the grant is still available. Nancy Thomas, city attorney, informed the board that its request to use the remainder of the money for fencing on the east side of the airport was approved by the state.

John Segrest and Tom Leggett, both of the Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, were at the meeting to give board members a tour of their unused hangar, vacated in 1996 when the MVD moved its base to Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport, of which the City of Vicksburg is also an owner, at Mound.

Leggett, chief of logistics for the division, said the government wants to sell the hangar to the board. Kilroy said the board wants to use the hangar to store aircraft that are currently in a hangar at the airport owned by Ernest Thomas. Thomas, who owns the hangar but leases the land from the city, has been sent a letter from the board asking him to remove his property from the land by May 5.

&#8220We’re going to be in a bind here in April or May and we really need the space,” Cross said.

Leggett and Segrest both said they would begin the process of transferring the hangar to the city.

In other business, Slaton said by-laws need to be adopted by the board.

&#8220We’re not getting full participation from our members,” Slaton said. &#8220We need to get our by-laws together and put something about attendance in there.”

During the board’s Jan. 5 meeting, only three members were present. Because there was no quorum, no action could be taken.

Bobby Burkes and Mark Stanley are the other two members on the board. Louis Sullivan was appointed to the board, but resigned last week and is expected to be replaced next week.