Airport on fast track to get a mower

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The Carroll County Airport Commission met Friday, and mowing equipment once again dominated discussion.

As grass begins to grow, the airport’s current tractor and mower have a variety of shortcomings, and commissioners have considered either a large zero-turn radius mower or an all-wheel drive commercial mower. They considered a Hustler ZTR with a 102-in. cut, compared to a Kubota with a solid 100-in. deck.

The Hustler runs on gas, and has a rear discharge. It can cut up to 11 acres per hour under ideal conditions, although conditions around the airport are not always ideal. Commission Chair Chase Tresler said he preferred the Kubota’s all-wheel drive on slopes. The Kubota comes with an air-ride seat. Airport Manager Michael Pfeifer, who will do most of the mowing, said he would also prefer the Kubota.

The Hustler is available on a five-year lease. It costs just under $20,000, and a lease or purchase over that amount would have to go out for bids. Final figures were not available for the Kubota, but it was expected to cost a little over the $20,000 threshold, which would involve further delays. Both proposals include trading in the airport’s current Kubota tractor.

The commission voted to pursue the Kubota if the price comes in below $20,000. Otherwise, they will lease the Hustler. The quorum court would have to approve either option. The commission will not be asking for additional funds in their budget, and the lease payment would be lower than a current lease. The quorum court will meet next at 5 p.m. on Monday, May 20, and the commission’s next meeting will be at noon on Friday, May 17.

Manager’s report

In his monthly report, Pfeifer mentioned the Fly-in planned for the following day. “It looks like the best weather day of the month, and we expect a big attendance,” he said.

Pfeifer said he appreciated having John Howerton in attendance. Howerton, Justice of the Peace from District 11, has begun attending meetings to improve communications between the commission and the quorum court.

A new door has been installed on the corporate hangar, Pfeifer said, and the door has received positive reviews. Others who saw it planned to use the same door on a hangar they plan to build, he said. That corporate hangar has already been leased, and the lease term will begin as soon as some insulation and electrical work are complete. The airport currently has a waiting list for hangars.

The airport will have an additional hangar for lease, after receiving permission from a delinquent lessee to remove a plane from his hangar and tie it down outside. Commissioners had previously discussed steps they could take in the case of a delinquent lease, acknowledging they need the income from that hangar, but did not want to risk a lawsuit by tying the aircraft down outside. The aircraft is not currently in flying condition. The airport will pursue the back rent.

Engineer’s report

Consulting Engineer Dan Clinton distributed an outline of a new Master Plan for the airport, saying the plan covered everything, “the same as the big airports.” Clinton said the airport would likely receive a grant for more than $200,000 to implement the plan. More than $90,000 of that will go to pay for a survey of the airport and its surroundings. The Federal Aviation Administration now requires this in-depth survey before an airport can extend an approach, but the FAA also pays for the survey, Clinton explained.

The FAA is currently more likely to pay for land acquisitions, he said, although he said property owners must take the first step in offering a property to the airport, rather than having airport representatives petitioning property owners.

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