City Council Takes First Step Toward Major Municipal Airport Improvements

By Sue Curry Jones

The Ava Board of Aldermen met on Tuesday, April 26, at 5:00 p.m., with aldermen Stan Lovan, Leon Harris, Burrely Loftin and Keith Jones present for the session.  The meeting agenda offered several matters for discussion, but overall, the airport improvement grant was the most important topic discussed  during the meeting.

In closed, a real estate issue was discussed, and council voted to hire Angela Brooke, as an employee in the utility department.  Brooke was hired through Penmac Personnel Services.

Taking on an unexpected project, council voted to approve proposed costs associated with improving the Bill Martin Municipal Airport, and the stipulations of a grant offered through MoDOT.

According to Mayor David Norman, Christopher Flageolle, with Lochner, a civil and structural engineering firm, and Andrew Hanks, MoDOT aviation project manager, presented updated cost factors to city officials last week.  The firm’s most recent evaluation of the airport runway revealed that a simple resurfacing project on the airstrip for a cost of $125,000 would prove fruitless as the landing strip is deteriorating, and base footings will crumble away in two years.  For the grant opportunity, Flageolle and Hanks said the present runway must be completely removed, and a new runway built, and estimated costs will total $787,024 to $875,000.

In the grant proposal, the City of Ava has a 10% contribution factor, which under the revised figures, this tallies to $90,000, far more than the $12,000 previously discussed.

The grant proposal cites two proposals for consideration:

No. 1) expand the runway to a 50-ft. wide span, and lengthen the size of the strip to 3600-feet, ($787,024).

No. 2) lengthen the strip to 3600-feet and expand the width to 60-ft. ($875,678.40).

The proposal includes options for upgrading the connecting trafficway and apron area, however, Norman advised the most important matter is expanding the size of the runway to a width of 50-ft., and length of 3600 ft.

Council briefly discussed funding options for financing the $90,000 payout associated with the project.  Norman said the sum would be paid in installments, as the work is done.  He also noted the work has not been officially scheduled, but is planned for fall or next spring.  MoDOT will determine the start date.

The Mayor recommended moving forward with the plan, as the grant money may not be offered later.  He also said the City has an established line of credit, which could be used to cover the city’s investment in the project.  Norman also said MoDOT requires an answer in 30-days.

Motions to move forward were by Stan Lovan and Leon Harris. The vote was 4-0.

As noted on the agenda, council revisited the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce’s request for additional funds from the City of Ava.  The city presently gives the organization $27,600 annually, and as per the request received last session, the Chamber is asking for an additional $9,480, which if approved, would bring the city’s total contribution to the group, $37,080.

In the discussion, it was noted the Chamber receives an additional $15,000 through the annual collection of membership dues; the group also takes in around $8500 selling ads for the Community Directory –– two items that provide revenue of $23,500.  However, there is expense attached to the printing of the directory.

Councilman Keith Jones said prior to making a decision on this issue, he had called several municipalities and Chambers to inquire about how other agencies were funded.  Jones commented he wanted to have more information to pull from, as well as a better understanding of Chamber funding protocol for this local area.

Jones admitted this issue is hard to quantify; however, traditionally, public monies are not used to fund another business organization.

Jones advised that through the phone calls, and city clerk contacts, he found most Chambers were self-funded through membership fees and/or events.  The information received from other cities is noted below, in annual amounts:

  • Licking, no funding;
  • Houston, $12,000;
  • Mountain View, $3200;
  • Seymour, $5,000;
  • Cabool, $20,000;
  • Willow Springs, no funding, but provides space with paid utilities;
  • West Plains, $12,000;
  • Cassville, no funding.

Norman commented the Chamber organizes the annual Christmas parade, and the Glade Top Trail, and both events lost money last year.  No action was taken by council.

In a 3-0 vote, council renewed a contractual agreement with Jerry Pitts.  In the contract, Pitts has permission to cut hay on two city properties, one near Happy Home Road, and the other, the ‘old’ city landfill on east Highway 14.  In exchange for the hay, priced at $8 per bale, Pitts does excavation work for the City of Ava.

Motions to renew the contract were by councilmen Keith Jones and Burrely Loftin.  Alderman Leon Harris abstained from the vote.

The Municipal Court Docket dated April 15 was approved as presented.

Norman advised a trip to visit Willard and Nixa is planned for May 2, with the goal to tour the remote-read water meter systems at each site. Three employees will join Norman for the visit, they are Peggy Porter, administrative direc­tor; Jennifer Lakey, billing special­ist; and Jeff Coffer, superintendent, water and sewer department.  The purpose of the trip is to discuss the value of the systems and attain more information.

In a 3-0 vote, councilmen selected Alderman Burrely Loftin as president of the board.  Nominations for Loftin were given by Jones and Lovan, with Loftin abstaining from the process.

The City’s most recent application for a Community Development Block Grant to construct new sidewalks around the square, and south to City Hall, was denied. Norman said the grant was turned down for several reasons, but the City will resubmit and try again next year.

As an update, Norman reported employees in the utility department will be cross-trained in duties, and procedures for after hour overtime calls was reviewed and reinforced.

City Council will reconvene on Tuesday, May 10, at 5:00 p.m.  Meetings are open to the public.