Airport Authority talks rights of way, high-speed Internet
WILLIAMSTOWN — Although he’ll be working alongside incoming Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport Manager Glen Kelly over the next month, current Manager Jeff McDougle had his final regular meeting with the Wood County Airport Authority Tuesday.
“I wanted to thank you guys for all your support for the last four years. It’s gone by fast,” said McDougle, whose last day will be Nov. 3. “We’ve got a lot accomplished; there’s a lot to do, and you’ve got a great guy coming in.”
“Thank you for all that you’ve done,” authority President Bill Richardson said. “We’re in the black.”
The airport had $283,000 in debt when McDougle came aboard four years ago. The last of that debt was retired in July 2016 when the airport paid off the remainder of a $184,882.64 note provided by United Bank in 2013 to pay off another line of credit without refinancing at a higher rate.
Kelly, a retired Army colonel who started at the airport in mid-September after a five-month stint as Washington County’s Emergency Management Agency director, said he appreciates the opportunity to “come to a place that’s so well-run.”
Kelly said he plans to stay in touch with McDougle and draw on the expertise of authority member Terry Moore, also a former airport manager, and the employees.
“Institutional knowledge is priceless,” he said.
Kelly said the top priority for the airport is providing a safe landing environment for pilots. The airport has done that, he said, and Kelly wants to maintain that quality while also boosting economic development efforts.
He and McDougle will be working over the next few weeks with Lumos Networks on a right-of-way agreement. The company wants to place approximately 5,700 feet of fiberoptic lines and some poles on airport property for a project to provide service to Memorial Health System facilities on both sides of the Ohio River, Lumos representatives at Tuesday’s meeting said.
McDougle said he’d rather work out a deal for high-speed Internet service at the airport than receive a payment for the rights of way.
“The airport really does need it up here,” he said, noting the airport, Via Air, the control tower and River Road Investments, which has a hangar at the airport, could all benefit. He described the airport’s current DSL Internet service as slow and cumbersome.
Robert Legg, outside plant manager for engineering with Lumos, said a conduit running under the runway could cut down on a lot of the expense for the airport. McDougle said just getting permission to do that would take a long time.
In other business, enplanements were down to 306 in September, the lowest monthly tally since March. McDougle said there were six flights canceled in the month, all due to mechanical issues, but nowhere near as many as in January and February, when enplanements didn’t top 180.
For the quarter, there were eight more enplanements than during the same period last year, the final three months of Silver Airways’ service to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
McDougle said Via Air’s service to Orlando and St. Augustine, Fla., by way of Charlotte Douglas International Airport, remains popular. Passengers from Columbus and Akron have flown out of the airport in recent weeks due to the price, he said.
Nearly 11,000 gallons more of fuel were sold in September than during the same month in 2016. McDougle said a variety of factors contributed to those figures.