, Corbin, KY

Local News

May 5, 2014

Lightning fizzles parts in airport’s new beacon

CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer

Lightning — it’s a dangerous part of spring and summer.

And the Williamsburg-Whitley County Airport got hit with that knowledge first-hand after a lightning strike fizzled parts in the airport’s new beacon.

During the regular monthly meeting of the Airport Board, Chairman Tim Mays explained that one of the recent storms temporarily knocked out the beacon.

“(When the lightning hit), it blew out the motor fuse and fried the housing around the fuse up on the tower,” he said. “(There’s) also a possible bad relay in the building.”

He added that a Federal Aviation Administration-authorized technician would have to do the repair work, but that the repair process has already begun.

Related to the beacon, present board members unanimously agreed to remove the baffle from the beacon.

The baffle was added to the beacon at a cost of approximately $1,800 to aid in blocking some of the beacon’s light from neighbors.

The problem? Helicopters and planes headed to the airport from the west couldn’t see the beacon until they were nearly on top of it, according to board member Mike Colegrove.

“Personally, I think we should take it down,” Vice-Chairman Rich Prewitt said.

“We tried to accommodate,” Colegrove said.

“It just didn’t work,” board member Alice Faye Weiland added.

Colegrove made the motion to remove the baffle, and Prewitt seconded the motion.

In other board business:

— Board members are in the process of determining what specifically they want audited of the board’s financial statements.

But the board is also in process of getting their finances back on track.

During Thursday’s meeting, board accounting consultant Don Stricklin explained finances “are getting better.”

One thing he noted was only $475 was spent last month for repairs — according to the financial records, repair expenses have been in the thousands each month during the past fiscal year.

He also discussed a bank account at Community Trust Bank which has not been used in some time but had a $194.18 balance. Board members unanimously agreed to close that account and move the balance to one of the airport’s current bank accounts. Board member Bob Moses made the motion to close the account, and a second to the motion was given by Weiland.

Then board members discussed and unanimously approved creating a policy that outlines the cost of renting meeting rooms and/or office space at the airport. “We need a policy,” Mays said.

Prewitt made the motion to approve creating a policy, with a second to the motion given by Moses.

The next financial topic for discussion centered around refinancing the airport’s near $450,000 in loans.

Stricklin said there was “a pretty good possibility that it could get done” — board members hope to refinance the debt and get a lower interest rate.

In response to trying to improve the board’s perceived character during the refinancing process, board members unanimously agreed to add $1,000 to their monthly loan payment each month.

At first the thought was to begin adding the $1,000 with the June payment — but that idea was scrapped and replaced with beginning that increased payment “tomorrow.”

Colegrove made the motion to approve the additional payment, and a second was offered by Moses.

And then the discussion of the impending audit began. Stricklin said the board “would need a letter sent to the Office of the State Auditor (to outline) specific areas to be audited and the years wanted.”

Mays felt the board had already obligated itself to an audit, and that they must move forward.

“There are things we need to look at,” Colegrove said, and was concerned if Stricklin had uncovered any “red flags” when rebuilding the airport’s finances.

Stricklin said he thought things were “pretty good” and didn’t seem to think there was anything that would raise those flags.

“(If we’re) making a clean start, at least (we need to) look at (an) audit for at least some areas,” Colegrove said.

Stricklin added that state law now provides that boards, including the Airport Board, must be audited every five years after June 2014.

No other decisions were made Thursday concerning the audit.

— Paul Steely, with PDC Consultants, who oversees the project of remarking the runways and rehabilitating the lights, was on hand Thursday to let board members know the process is closer than ever to start.

Steely said he expected to bid out the project in about two weeks, but that because of the specifics of the work, a pre-bid meeting is “necessary. “ The review by the FAA is complete, he added, and that he expects bids for the project to be in house by the beginning of June.

“We could be ready to start work in July,” he said.

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