The Edmond Sun

Local News

July 20, 2012

Guthrie-Edmond airport receives $1.2M grant

OKLA. CITY — The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission approved a state grant for the Guthrie-Edmond Regional Airport for several capital improvement projects during its meeting Thursday at the state Capitol.

The proposed GERA projects consist of electrical upgrades and installing Precision Approach Path Indicators (PAPIs) on Runway 16/34, constructing taxi lanes for hangar development and rehabilitation of taxiway Charlie. PAPIs are a visual aid that provides guidance information to help a pilot acquire and maintain the correct approach to an airport.

Dale Williams, airport development manager with OAC, said the total project cost is $1.2 million and will be funded with $1.08 million in federal grant funds, $54,144 of state grant funds and $66,177 of sponsor matching funds. The commission is making half the sponsor’s required federal match.

GERA airport manager Justin Heid thanked the commission for its approval.

“I would like to thank the commission for their support,” Heid said. “It will really help us move forward.”

GERA board member Lamar Wade of Guthrie said getting these grants is vital to small airports’ survival across Oklahoma.

“The grants are the things that keep the airports alive,” Wade said. “It is the only thing in the world that expands an airport. Without them we would be sunk and so would everybody else.”

Wade said the grants have to be used for non-economic projects.

“They don’t build anything in there for economic development,” Wade said. “We can’t build a hangar out of that. But we can put in taxiways and lights. We can make it attractive for somebody to come do it.”

Wade added that both Guthrie and Edmond have to match a portion of the grant money for the projects.

“There has to be match money,” Wade said. “It’s not totally free. Edmond and Guthrie have to come up with match money for these projects.”

In other action, the commission also approved a $2,000 aviation education grant for Francis Tuttle’s Pre-Engineering Academy.

Grayson Ardies, program manager at OAS, said the grant will be for the technology center’s Aerospace Engineering course through Project Lead the Way. The grant will provide for Vernier lab equipment, which will be used in studying Newton’s laws of motion, “g” forces, impulse, thrust, drag and power. With this data-collecting Vernier lab equipment the students will develop a better understanding of STEM-related concepts through the use of technology.

Ardies told the commission that there was more than $300,000 in education request grants and just more than $105,000 was approved for six educational entities across the state.

The OAC also tackled several airport issues with the Oklahoma Airport System including a proposal to close the Lake Murray State Park Airport. The board denied that request.

The FAA previously asked the commission to delay action while the agency conducts a study of general aviation airports across the nation.

Commission members voiced a variety of concerns including giving up the chance to accept $150,000 in federal funds that could be transferred to other airports. Roughly $1 million has been received since 2001.

Commissioners were told if the contract terms aren’t met, the grant money would probably have to be paid back.

Victor Bird, OAC director, told the commission that as a co-sponsor of the airport, under state law the commission was being asked to join with the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation, the owner and the other co-sponsor of the airport to ask the Federal Aviation Administration to close the Lake Murray Airport and be relieved of any and all grant obligations.

Claudia Conner, deputy director and general counsel with the ODTR, told commissioners that the airport has low usage, about one landing a month.

She said tourism workers already shuttle people to nearby airports including Ardmore Downtown Executive Airport and Ardmore Executive Airport.

Bird said trying to update the Lake Murray airport runway would be cost prohibitive.

“It would cost a lot of money and we wouldn’t want to do that,” Bird said. “There are better airports (in Ardmore) to serve the public.”

In other action, the OAC approved a request to delete the Pawnee Municipal Airport from the Oklahoma Airport System. By doing so, the Pawnee airport can still stay open, but won’t be eligible for any state grant funds.

The OAC also approved allowing the Westport Airport in Pawnee County and Tenkiller Lake Airpark in Cookson to remain in the OAS provided they meet certain maintenance criteria set out by the OAC.

Bird said there have been misconceptions about the OAC’s goal of deleting airports from the Oklahoma Airport System.

“We are not closing airports,” Bird said. “We don’t have the authority to close any airports.”


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