Airport committee seeks consultant, improvement grants

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

A single engine airplane is tied down near the fuel dispensing tank at the Linn County Airport on the southeast edge of Pleasanton. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)

MOUND CITY – Following a meeting of the Linn County Airport Committee earlier this month, Airport Manager Jessica Hightower brought a shopping list of sorts to the Linn County Commission on Monday, Sept. 20.

She said the committee requested that the county send out a request for proposals for an airport consulting firm, purchase a fuel analyzer that checks for water in the aviation fuel, and to post information about the airport on the Federal Aviation Administration’s NOTAM system.

NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) is a notice containing information essential to personnel concerned with flight operations but not known far enough in advance to be publicized by other means. Hightower told commissioners that it would post notices quickly if, for example, grass along the runway was being mowed or a hay bale was dropped near the end of the runway during a cutting.

Hightower said the committee felt that hiring an airport consulting firm would be beneficial as the committee explored projects to improve the airport over the next few years. She said that once she had received proposals, the next step would be to seek a grant from the Kansas Association of Airports to pay the consulting fees.

She said she also expected to receive grants for making improvements around the airport. Those matching grants provided 80 percent to 95 percent of the associated costs with the county paying the remainder.

“We don’t have to accept any bid,” Hightower said, adding that “pending state funding” would be a part of the proposal or project specifications.

She pointed out that the county committee is comprised of pilots. “They know how (the airport) should function, but don’t know how to get it there. A consultant would help me walk through the process and make sure we’re compliant.”

Commissioners did not vote to approve sending out the request for proposals but informally gave Hightower permission to work with County Counselor Gary Thompson on the language for the request.

There was also consensus among commissioners for Hightower to price an analyzing system for aviation fuel (avgas) that would detect water in the fuel. She said the cost of the system would be about $2,000. Avgas commonly has a 100 octane rating compared to 87 up to 93 for automotive use.

Currently Kevin Amer, one of the committee members is doing the test, Hightower said, but the committee wanted for the airport to have its own system.

Hightower reminded the commission that the 6,000 gallon avgas tank at the airport was purchased through a grant. She said the price of fuel there for pilot was $3.80 per gallon, about 15 cents per gallon cheaper than any other airport in the region.

Commissioner Danny McCullough said he wanted to see more avgas sales, and Hightower responded that the tank was down to about half full and she would be ordering more fuel.

Hightower reported earlier this summer that the credit-card purchasing system for the avgas was not working for several weeks this spring before it was discovered to be faulty. That likely cost the county sales of avgas.

The manager also told commissioners that David Fisher and Gary Cross, members of the committee, had volunteered to post information on the NOTAM network. Commissioners voted to make Fisher the airport information coordinator and Cross as the alternate.

Hightower also reported to the commission that she was working on a business plan for the airport, and that the committee wanted to draft operating procedures for the facility.

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