City to spend $12,500 to tally airport trees

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 1, 2009

A New Orleans company was hired Thursday during a special meeting called by the Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen to complete a survey of obstructions to aircraft arriving or departing Vicksburg Municipal Airport’s runway.

GCR & Associates Inc. will be paid $12,500 to identify trees that will need to be removed in the glide slope of the 5,000-foot runway. The work is the first step in a larger plan to acquire a 19-acre tract on the north side of the runway and clear it of trees and brush, as well as put up Federal Aviation Administration-approved fencing.

The airport received a $262,000 grant from the Delta Regional Authority for the work last year, and the cost of the survey work will go toward the city’s required match of the grant dollars. Airport manager Curt Follmer said the survey will get under way soon, but the clearing work will take longer.

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“Once we have the trees identified, we’ll have to do our land acquisitions before any clearing can begin,” he said. “Realistically, that’s still several months off.”

Follmer, a former casino executive hired in October to run the airport, said some portions are already owned by the city. The work is identified in a 20-year airport layout plan recently completed by Jackson-based consultant Neel-Schaffer, which also includes the addition of a new runway and other ambitious expansions. Mayor Laurence Leyens has been working to bring a private, $60 million defense technology testing facility to Vicksburg, which would be based at the airport.

The city has taken a renewed interest in the airport over the past year under Leyens, making it a department of the city in late October. An in-house remodeling of the nearly 60-year-old terminal has been ongoing since last fall, paid for in part through a $1.3 million grant the city received following Hurricane Katrina. A manufactured home has been serving as a temporary terminal while the renovations are being completed.

Last week, the city signed a contract with Brumfield & Associates Architecture to design a new T-hangar for the airport, which Follmer said could house anywhere from 10 to 16 airplanes. Leyens said the T-hangar will cost about $300,000.

In December the city and its three partners who operate the Vicksburg-Tallulah Regional Airport, verbally agreed to renew an operating contract of the Mound, La., airport for another five years. A 25-year operating contract between Vicksburg, Warren County, Tallulah and Madison Parish expired at the end of 2008, and the four separate municipalities have yet to each formally adopt the new five-year deal.

Beginning today, VTR is open only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until installation of new lighting is complete.

Also Thursday, city officials:

* Ratified a certificate of substantial completion on the NRCS project for Bowmar Avenue and Alfred Drive.

* Hired Butler Snow law firm to research and advise the city regarding state and federal laws pertaining to municipal energy generation. The city expressed interest earlier this month in using underwater turbines to generate electricity from Mississippi River. Butler Snow is to be paid a maximum of $5,000.


Contact Steve Sanoski at