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Airport repairs needed

Wednesday, February 9, 2005

SIKESTON - Repairs to the Sikeston Airport's runway lights, runway and taxiway will be the city's immediate focus, but the facility needs more than that.

An "airport summit meeting" was hosted by city officials at the Clinton Building Tuesday to "get some communication going back and forth between those who are using the airport," said Mayor Mike Marshall.

Marshall said he recently reviewed a report of things businesses look for when determining where to locate. "One of the things mentioned several times is a good airport," he said.

City officials have discussed for several years "what improvements we could make out at the airport," according to City Manager Doug Friend. "We're open to your ideas and suggestions."

The most pressing issue is the lack of runway lights.

The runway lights' transformer burned out at the end of January, according to city officials, but there is still a break in the circuit preventing the lights from coming back on using the taxiway lights' transformer.

Steve Lee, street superintendent, said city crews are trying to track down the break.

"We're doing the best we can to get them up and running," Friend said.

City officials are also looking at an upgrade for the runway lights with figures coming back at about $500 per light or a total of about $200,000 for the entire runway.

Friend also discussed the apron reconstruction and taxiway overlay project which should cost a little over $600,000 most of which will come from federal entitlement funds administered through the Missouri Department of Transportation. "It's federal money that comes through the state," he said.

Friend said the goal is to begin in the fall of this year.

Asked about efforts at bringing growth to the airport, Marshall said the city is engaged in marketing efforts in St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn. "Hopefully that will generate some business at the airport," he said.

Jeff Hux said the airport needs to focus on providing courteous service to all pilots who land at the airport, not just corporate pilots.

"We need to stay focused and make sure our airport booms," Hux said. "I think it's a critical time."

Hux noted Sikeston's airport gets more traffic than Cape Girardeau's.

Adam Scudder discussed the poor condition of the hangars at the Sikeston Airport. He said many pilots are scared to use the existing hangars and noted there is a waiting list of 17-18 people for hangar space at the airport.

Scott Matthews said larger T-hangars are needed. "They're just not functional for today's aircraft," he said of the existing hangars.

Scudder brought up the location and condition of the airport's terminal, describing it as "ugly, unappealing."

Friend said it has been discussed as a long-range plan to "relocate that to a more desirable location," but it is a matter of matter of priority and limited money.

Several of those attending the meeting confirmed the taxiway and runway work needs to be done first. "You're not going to have a functional airport if you don't do something soon," said John Chittenden of Waters Engineering in Sikeston about the taxiway and runway work.

Troy Wilson suggested having a study done of the airport to come up with long range plans such as relocating the terminal.

Friend said studies usually start around $20,000 and he doesn't know who to contact for that type of study, "but we could sure look at it and see."

Marshall said city officials will contact Kennett's airport for references on an airport planner.

Also discussed was the construction of a heavy gauge security fence around the airport funded by a Homeland Security grant of about $80,000.

"This is a three-phase grant," Friend said.

Bids for erecting the first portion of the fence are slated to be opened today.

About 6,500 feet of fencing with eight access gates are included in this phase.

Friend said he expects council members will award the fence bid at the end of this month so construction should start in March and be finished by mid or late April.