City board approves FAA application for money for municipal airport plan

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 14, 2008

In a special meeting Thursday, Vicksburg officials OK’d an application to the Federal Aviation Administration for money to develop an airport layout plan for Vicksburg Municipal Airport, part of the city’s decision to pump millions of local, state and federal dollars into the facility on U.S. 61 South.

The plan will take roughly four months to put together and cost about $50,000, said Mayor Laurence Leyens. It will be developed by Jackson-based consultant Neel-Schaffer, and will be paid for via the $150,000 each airport on the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems nationwide receives annually. Vicksburg’s airport got back on that list in 2007, but Leyens said it would have lost the money had it not met the deadline today.

“It’s get into the game or get out,” he said. “We have to formally apply for money even though it’s already been allocated to us.”

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Leyens said a professional airport layout plan is essential in requesting money from the FAA. Meanwhile, Leyens said Neel-Schaffer is also working on a capital improvement plan for the airport.

The city took over Vicksburg Municipal Airport as an official department of the city in late October, and is in the process of remodeling the nearly 60-year-old terminal with part of the $1.3 million grant the city received in federal grant money following Hurricane Katrina. The city is performing the remodeling in house to count toward the 50 percent local match required of the grant. A new fire station will also be built with the money, as well as a new T-hangar building.

Additionally, a $262,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority — which requires no local match — is being used to acquire 19 acres of land north of the runway, clear trees and put up new fencing, said Leyens.

For many of the years since Vicksburg Tallulah Regional Airport opened at Mound, La., in 1993, Vicksburg invested nothing in the municipal airport. That has changed under the Leyens administration, starting with a $650,000 state grant for runway work. Leyens has also said the city should only have a short-term renewal, if any, of its one-fourth ownership share in VTR. The other owners are Warren County, Madison Parish and Tallulah.

Also Thursday, Leyens and North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield OK’d an agreement with Motorola for reconfiguration services. System manager Bill Ford said the agreement allows the city to hire Motorola to change the city’s public safety frequencies, which has been mandated by the Federal Communications Commission. The work is being done at no cost to the city. Ford said changes Nextel made to its technology have interfered with public safety frequencies nationwide, and as a result Nextel has agreed to pay for reconfiguration services. The project will cost Nextel slightly less than $500,000 in Vicksburg, said Ford.

South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman did not attend the meeting.


Contact Steve Sanoski at