Runway project to resume

WILLIAMSTOWN – The Wood County Airport Authority was told work on the runway area safety project will again begin soon with a completion date of sometime in the summer, the manager said.

“The National Guard is looking to rent the part of hangar four not rented by AirEvac,” said Jeff McDougle, manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport.

The AirEvac medical helicopter uses about a quarter of the space, which leaves a large space, including offices for the National Guard.

“They will pay for the renovations, which the hangar needs,” McDougle said Tuesday.

Construction on a 10,000-square-foot hangar, approved by the board last year, is expected to begin soon after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves the plans.

In July 2013, the board approved the proposal, made by Kenyon Cox, a local pilot and member of the airport’s marketing arm. Cox approached the board as a representative of a local company that does not wish to be named and is already a resident of the airport with planes stored in rented space.

The hangar will be located in what is now green space next to the airport employee parking lot, inside the fence. The hangar will be built by the local company on land rented to it by the airport.

In other business Tuesday:

* Authority members were told the tower project portion of the runway area safety project has been put out for bids and once the contractor is chosen on May 30, work should begin shortly, McDougle said.

“This is to correct the runway area safety project,” he said.

The project was originally expected to be completed in 2008, but went to a standstill in August 2011. In early 2012, the airport went into lawyer to lawyer discussions with Mountaineer Grading’s bonding company Travelers Insurance and it was decided the company was in default since it hadn’t been at the site in nearly a year.

The project includes the creation of a 500-foot safety area on either end of the runway along with light towers to extend the visual of the runway by 2,400 feet.

The safety project was decreed by the FAA. West Virginia was the first state to complete those at the state’s federally obligated airports.

It is unknown why Mountaineer Grading cut back on the work and did not complete the project.

“We are glad to finally get to see the light at the end of the runway,” board president Bill Richardson joked.

* In April, the airport saw 449 passengers travel to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. This is down 240 passengers from April 2013.

“For the year, we are down almost 500 passengers from last year at this time,” McDougle told the board.

This is because of reliability issues with Silver Airways, which has had issues with mechanics and cancellations throughout the year, he said.

“The one bright spot is that Silver’s reliability improved greatly – five cancellations from more than 20 in March,” said McDougle. “If this week is any indication for this month, we are going to blow out of the water the previous months’ passenger numbers because we had 20 passengers on Monday and eight more on the first flight Tuesday.”

Fuel sales continue to rise as April saw 33,000 gallons of fuel sold.

“We don’t know why, but we will take it,” McDougle said. “We fueled five planes (Tuesday) morning before 8.”