8 W C – Washington County Airport Met With Legislative Reps. - The Independent-Journal: Local News

8 W C – Washington County Airport Met With Legislative Reps.

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Posted: Saturday, February 15, 2020 12:00 am

The Washington County Airport Board met on Thursday, Jan. 30th with legislative representatives from the offices of Senator Roy Blunt, Senator Josh Hawley and Congressman Jason Smith. Also attending the meeting were Reggie Rowe and Craig Portell representing the Washington County Industrial Development Authority.

Representative for Senator Roy Blunt’s office was Madison Baker from the Cape Girardeau office. Representing Senator Josh Hawley’s office was Matt Bain, also from Cape Girardeau. Donna Hickman, from Farmington, was representing 8th District Rep. in Congress Jason Smith.

The meeting was called by President of the W.C. Airport Board Sam Rhodes. The goal was to update the elected officials at the federal level about the status, goals and projects for the Airport.

Rhodes updated the group on meeting with Bob Purcell, Purcell Tire and Service Centers, about the Purcell Hangar that was one of the first buildings at the Airport. As the airport has developed the hangar is now located between the runway and the taxiway for the fuel pumps, maintenance and terminal, as well as access to other hangars.

The meeting with Mr. Purcell brought about the possibility of moving the Purcell Hangar and opening the access. With Mr. Purcell’s encouragement, plans are underway to make the move and re-use the building in another location at the Airport.

A new entrance to the Airport has been designed by Jviation, the County’s aviation engineering service, to come off of Highway 8 East of Potosi and to eliminate crossing the path of the existing runway. This change will help the goal of extending the runway. Representing Jviation at the meeting was Joe Peska. He explained the change improving safety zones and obstruction removal for the Airport.

Danny Wilson, Washington County Airport Manager, updated the group on the number of changes, improvements and repairs that he had dealt with in the past several months.  Wilson has overseen daily operation of the facility as well working with updates of aviation fuel service and hangar maintenance. One point of interest Wilson shared was a lightening strike that had occurred during the day last Fall. The strike opened a hole in the ground next to the runway and blew out several runway lights and transformers for the lights. The lights were repaired and replaced by Wilson.

The discussion turned to the goals and wants for the Washington County Airport and what can be done to get the facility into consideration at the federal level. The primary goals for the Airport are the new entrance, longer and wider runway, stronger runway and an automated weather observation system.

The current runway is 4000 feet long with a 60 foot width. The runway is rated at 12,500 pounds. The proposed upgrade would take the runway to 4600 feet with a 75 foot width and a rating of 21,500 pounds. This would allow the Washington County Airport to handle larger aircraft.

The A.W.O.S. (automated weather observation system) would provide 24 hour weather information based from the Airport. Currently, pilots are required to use Farmington weather reports, as the nearest A.W.O.S. location.

The runway project is estimated at $4 million dollars. This project can only be addressed with external money sources. The weather system is projected at $350,000. Both projects would significantly increase the attraction and use of the airport.

The group discussed the economic impact of the airport and the fact that many, many companies now use planes for convenience and travel for executives and personnel. A viable airport is another piece of an important part of the economic driver for a community.

Another point of discussion, and possibly even more important, is the need for air access if a major catastrophe would happen. The area has been included in the potential earthquake effected area of Missouri and roads and bridges could potentially been some of the first things lost in a major earthquake. A working airport could make the difference for health, food and emergency needs both in and out of the County.

The group took a tour of the facility after the meeting and visited the hangars, runway and grounds on Highway 8 East of Potosi.

The Airport Board asked the representatives what the best course of action might be at the federal level to gain attention and support for the facility. All three encouraged the area constituents to call their offices, express their interest and support for the Airport.

Support for the airport is welcome. Call Donna Hickman at Rep. Jason Smith’s office in Farmington, 573-756-9755; Matt Bain at Senator Josh Hawley’s office in Cape, 573-334-5995; and Madison Baker at Senator Roy Blunt’s office in Cape, 573-334-7044.

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