Extended runway still far off, but hangars inching closer for airport

Published 6:51 pm Friday, November 7, 2014

The Rowan County Airport is still at least a year away from a 6,000-foot runway, but could be inching closer to getting up to ten new airplane hangars.

As a part of a five-year improvement plan, the airport’s advisory board voted during its Friday meeting to recommend the approval of hangar construction to the Rowan County Commissioners.

The airport doesn’t completely have all of the funding needed to pay for the project, which also includes a bit of paving, specifically in an area where planes are parked — the apron. Half of the project’s $1.3 million price tag is for paving, according to airport board chairman Greg Edds. The other half would be for the hangars, Edds said.

Currently, the board is looking to use $300,000 in annually allocated money to help pay for the project and looking to state government to help offset a portion of the remaining costs.

“Currently, there’s no space for anybody to rent a hanger,” Edds said. “The airport is wanting to grow but we have no space available.”

The board didn’t set a specific number of hangars that would be built, but said the project wouldn’t include more than ten.

Another major project at the airport is a runway expansion, but it likely won’t be done in the 2015 fiscal year, which ends in June 2015, according to Carl Ellington, an engineer for the airport. At the earliest, Ellington said the expansion could start in fiscal year 2016, which starts in July 2015 and ends in June 2015.

The runway expansion has hit a series of snags since its first inception. At one point airport officials considered expanding the runway on the southern side, but decided against it after discovering that a facility with potentially hazardous waste might be in the way, Airport Manager Thad Howell said.

Another snag came when the airport went through a process called geo-balancing. Howell said the airport went from being under the jurisdiction of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Atlanta Office to the FAA’s Memphis office.

“They required different things,” Howell said.  “The way [Memphis] interpreted procedures was a little different than the way Atlanta did.”

He said state government has chipped in to help pay for some of the added costs associated with additional studies required.

The runway expansion is expected to cost between $7 million to $10 million. Along with the expansion, it will be resurfaced so that water flows off of the runway easily.

“It’s just a tremendous economic development tool,” Edds said. “With bigger planes come businesses, come jobs and fuel sales.”

In other news from the meeting:

• The airport board considered options for renaming the airport and a tagline to go with the new name.

Rowan Works Economic Development Director Robert Vans Geons spoke about the value that a carefully crafted name could create for the Rowan County Airport.

“The challenge is having a name that represents this airport, what it is, what it’s becoming and what it can be,” Van Geons said. “When we present this airport to people who don’t know us, can we quickly and effectively convey our opportunity, the potential and our capacity here. There’s some good names out there but we have to convey a sense of who we are.”

• The airport board also voted to renew a lease with BOSS Aircraft Refinishers at a total cost of $2,000.

The value is $166 more per month than the previous lease.