Airport growing, needs more county support

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The Carroll County Airport commission opened 2017 with the news their allocation from the Quorum Court had been reduced like most other county departments. Commissioner Sandy Martin suggested that to compensate for the shortfall, CCA would have to reduce its monthly payments on two loans. She also suggested they find new ways to generate income.

Engineer and consultant Dan Clinton offered his ideas for projects CCA could list on its five-year Capital Improvement Plan. He would pursue federal and state grants, and suggested the 2017 project should be to finish rehabbing the taxiway.

Clinton mentioned the Arkansas Airport Operators Association might be interested in holding its autumn meeting in Eureka Springs and commissioners committed to getting letters from local dignitaries to improve their chances.

In February, Manager Michael Pfeifer announced Certified Flight Instructor Cris Brayman had partnered with the Ozark Flying Club to extend an “extremely affordable” offer to entice wannabe pilots to join.

As both a public relations strategy and revenue generator, Pfeifer continued to stage third Saturday fly-ins with a meal for those who showed up. He said the Jan. 21 “Eat some chili, get some gas” event attracted 150 people, 30 planes landed, 15 fueled, and CCA netted $180.

Pfeifer also mentioned two aircraft encountered a large herd of deer on the runway recently.

Commissioners approved authorizing Clinton to prepare a grant for renovations to the 60×60-ft. hangar with a hydraulic door on the south end of the property.

In March, Pfeifer observed the sparse budget situation necessitated creative management. In 2016, CCA received $5000 for operations each month, but it was receiving only $3333.33 in 2017.

Pfeifer said CCA got a very positive review on AirNav, a website for pilots. A man who landed at CCA reported, “Can’t say enough about this FBO. Mike let me put it my plane in an empty hangar and use the courtesy car to go to Eureka Springs… great place, I will be back.”

Pfeifer told commissioners he put down the $100 deposit necessary to get on the list for getting county water whenever the county gets a line out that far. He added another $100 deposit in April for placing a line to the hangar at the northwest end of the property currently used by Tri-State AirMotive.

Pilot Harper Goodwin commented in April about the cooperative connection between CCA and the Trigger Gap recreational airstrip three miles south of CCA, and Clinton said his next grant would be for resurfacing the taxiway, but first he would procure bids.

Pfeifer announced the AAOA would hold its annual convention in Eureka Springs in October, and commissioners discussed how to take full advantage of the opportunity to promote CCA.

By May, hangars were full. Clinton was disappointed to report changes in the grant-making process at the FAA made it less likely CCA could get funding for another eight-bay hangar but he would try to get a four or six bay. He also announced two bids came in for taxiway resurfacing, and Hutchens Construction’s bid of $201,090 was chosen.

In June, commissioners rearranged budget items to pay for unexpected repairs to loaner cars, and ads in the next seven issues of Fly-Low were bought. Three Eureka Springs businesses – Nelson’s, Eureka Zen Cottages and Suites, and Grotto Wood-Fired Grill–participated by offering 15 percent discounts to customers who brought in or mentioned the ad.

At the July meeting, Clinton said delays at the county level caused the taxiway to be postponed until at least autumn.

In August, commissioners approved seeking funding for revising the Master Plan to include ramp expansions, runway extension and land acquisitions. Bookkeeper Lanna Fletcher reported Pfeifer employed the most efficient use of resources she had seen since being associated with the airport. Pfeifer mentioned previously he saw improvement with the attitude of members of the Quorum Court toward CCA.

Pfeifer pointed out projects at CCA paid for by grants had put $600,000 back into the local community because local contractors and labor were used, and commissioner Chase Tressler claimed the grant projects had added nearly a million dollars in improvements to CCA the county did not have to pay for.

The June 2017 record of 1870 gallons of fuel sold in one month was eclipsed by July sales of 2297 gallons, and the August fly-in attracted 45 aircraft. CCA made a profit of $450.

In September one effect of Hurricane Harvey was an aviation fuel increase, and availability of fuel matters because the rising popularity of the third Saturday fly-ins has boosted sales of av-gas and brought in extra revenue. August sales hit 2163 gallons, and sales in September had reached 963 gallons before mid-month.

A Friends of the Airport fundraising campaign solicited support from businesses and individuals in Berryville, and came away with $1120. Some of the funds were used to get CCA t-shirts made in anticipation of CCA making more than $2100 if the shirts sold for $15.

In response to Hurricane Harvey, Goodwin gathered sleeping bags, items for infants and other necessities and flew two supply runs to cities near Houston.

CCA netted $550 at the August fly-in, and 27 planes purchased fuel.

During the weekend of October 8, 15 Cessna Skywagon 180s and 185s visited CCA as part of a weekend tour of Northwest Arkansas. Pfeifer said 32 attendees spent three nights in Eureka Springs, had breakfast at CCA on Saturday, and concluded their flight around the area with an organized fly-over of downtown Eureka Springs Saturday afternoon.

The November meeting was December 1, and commissioners noted the frequency with which they see the CCA loaner vehicle at locations in Eureka Springs, interpreted as a sign of the impact the airport has had on the local economy.

Pfeifer announced the taxiway resurfacing project would begin Dec. 7.

After a good year, commissioners were disappointed to learn that CCA would receive the same amount from the county, only $40,000, to operate the airport during 2018.

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