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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Local businessmen tout airport benefits

Thursday, April 5, 2012

During a special noontime meeting March 22, three area business leaders told Thayer aldermen the unseen plusses to having a local airport.

The meeting was set to discuss whether the city should continue with a state-funded project to seal the airport runway.

All but Alderman Bob Grimes believed the city should invest in its airport, which dates to the mid-1950s.

The airport, with a single runway and no manager, courtesy car or self-serve fuel, is capable of serving small jets and propeller planes. The airport is on the western edge of town, off of Route W.

Funded mainly by Missouri Department of Transportation, the $100,000 project was approved in 2008. The city spent roughly $4,900 for engineering, and will pay about $12,000 toward repair and repainting the runway.

Aldermen Mike Harber, Steve Alford and Terry Tillman approved the project. Grimes abstained, stating he did not believe the city could afford the expense now.

"I don't think we have the money," Grimes said.

Alford said the airport has much more traffic than most people are aware of locally. He said he spent five days at the airport polling visitors, and estimates the city could have sold 500 gallons of fuel, if it was available.

The airport does not have fuel, he said, because the cost of a credit card system is too high.

Alford said the city would also benefit by having an airport manager, but could not afford a manager's salary.

"I've heard for years about the money the airport would bring in, but I haven't seen it yet," Grimes said.

Resident Bill Martin said the city's $17,000 expense is not much compared to the airport's value to the community.

Large companies prefer to set up business in towns with airports, he said.

Resident Tommy Dills and Alton Alderman Tommy Young also spoke in favor of the airport.

Responding to a question by Tillman about what other work the city needs to have done at the airport, Martin said MoDOT has complained for years about wild animals on the runway, some trees on neighboring land that should be cut, incorrect grading and tall brush, but does not expect the city to pay to correct those issues if it cannot afford to.

Tillman also asked about a MoDOT concern about incorrect lighting.

"Is this additional maintenance for us?" Tillman asked.

Mayor Earl "Buddy" Rogers said, yes, the city is responsible for the lights.

Martin said the lighting should be corrected, but it does not have to be done now.

The airport is projected to be closed in July or August for the runway sealing project, depending on weather and construction availability.

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