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County’s airport runway to close for 14 days

SALISBURY — The Rowan County commissioners on Monday unanimously voted to close the Mid-Carolina Regional Airport’s runway for 14 days to complete a resurfacing project.

The resurfacing will involve placing a crown in the middle of the runway and creating grooves to prevent pooling of precipitation. It will be paid for with a $2.74 million grant and $300,000 in matching funds.

There’s no specific dates for the project, but Airport Director Kevin Davis says he’s hoping to see the resurfacing done in late February or early March.

Another option would be to do the resurfacing in pieces at night and open the runway for use during the day. Davis, however, told the commissioners Monday that could prove more expensive and present logistical problems.

Davis said the closure could be as short as 10 days, depending on construction. County Manager Aaron Church said the contract for the resurfacing would have “hefty and real” penalties if the contractor goes longer than 14 days.

The county has not yet solicited bids from engineering firms for the project.

In a letter to the county, Rachel Bingham, senior airport project manager for the N.C. Department of Transportation, recommended the 14-day closure, saying it could reduce delays and the number of pavement joints. It could also produce a higher-quality product, Bingham said.

Commissioners asked a number of questions but did not extensively debate the matter before voting in favor of the 14-day closure.

Commissioner Mike Caskey asked whether airport tenants would be refunded the price of their lease or whether costs would be reduced as a result of the closure. Davis said tenants would not receive a reimbursement or discount.

He said tenants may need to relocate their planes before the closure.

“It will be a challenge for some of the tenants,” he said.

Davis said tenants will still be able to access hangars for maintenance or other business during the runway closure.

Prompted by a question from Commissioner Craig Pierce, Davis said the closure will not affect the National Guard and N.C. Highway Patrol, which both operate out of the airport.

In other business at Monday’s meeting:

• By a 4-1 count, the commissioners approved earlier alcohol sales on Sundays.

Alcohol sales can now start at 10 a.m. on Sunday. The change is made possible by the “Brunch Bill” passed by the state legislature. The sales rules apply to all food service establishments, including grocery stores.

Mike Caskey was the only commissioner to vote against the change.

Monday’s meeting was the second time the commissioners had considered the matter. Last month, they also voted 4-1 in favor of earlier alcohol sales. Because the first vote was not unanimous, they had to vote a second time.

• The commissioners approved a $743,000 bid from Superior Mechanical Services to replace the cooling system at that serves the jail, both courthouses and Rowan Museum.

Facilities and Parks Director Don Bringle said the replacement should start in late December, which will alleviate some logistical concerns. Bringle said winter air temperatures will help keep the various buildings cool while crews replace the cooling system.

If temperatures briefly warm up in January, which Bringle said is likely, the county may need to pay for a temporary cooling system for the jail, which state law says should not rise above 85 degrees. A $50,000 contingency included in the bid cost should cover the cost of the temporary system, Bringle said.

• The commissioners approved a noise ordinance permit for a haunted trail in the China Grove area.

The haunted trail will be in the 400 block of Weaver Road on Oct. 13-14, 20-21, 27-28 and 30-31. The permit will allow exceeding noise ordinances from 7 p.m. to midnight.

Originally, the Miller family had requested a permit from 7 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. The commissioners approved a shortened period after hearing concerns from two neighbors and Pierce. Concerns mostly focused on the fact that noise would last until after midnight under the original proposal.

• The commissioners postponed consideration of a Vietnam veterans memorial planned for West End Plaza.

• They also postponed consideration of a rezoning request from commercial, business and industrial with a conditional use district to commercial, business and industrial at 5230 U.S. 601.

Contact associate editor Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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