Airport upgrades taking off

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Brookhaven Municipal Airport has several projects that arebeginning to gel, and Mayor Les Bumgarner said city officials areexcited about the progress they can see at Brookhaven’s gateway tothe rest of the world.

“We’ve really got a first class facility,” he said. “We’ve gotnew hangars, we’ve got the fence finished, and the fuel farm. Thisis really something the people of Brookhaven can be proud of.”

Airport Director Dr. Al Morrow said the main project in theworks is one that Bumgarner detailed on his four-year list of 28priorities for while he’s in office – the completion of the airportfuel farm.

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Morrow said the new fuel farm is in and simply awaiting wordfrom the State Department of Agriculture and Commerce that it canbegin operation.

“They bless it in some way,” he said with a laugh. “We have allthe fuel tanks in place, fuel in the tanks, all the equipment ishere, and all the software is ready. It’s all thumbs up except thatcertification piece.”

Morrow said there’s not a time frame he knows of to get thecertification, but that it looks like it should come any time.

“We were very hopeful when the lady came Monday that would be itand we’d be able to sell fuel,” he said. “She did her inspectionand said they need to do some additional work and she’d be back.It’s unfortunate, but now we’re dealing with the state, so we’ll bepatient.”

And the fuel farm is just the beginning of the betterment,officials said.

Bumgarner said some of the old hangars will come down and bereplaced with new ones, paid for with grant money. Morrow said thatproject may begin in November, pending one more approvalprocess.

Two hangars built in 1955 will be torn down, the first one inNovember and the second as soon as possible after that, hesaid.

“The second one is not in as bad a shape,” he said. “It doesn’tflood, there’s no termite damage. It can wait a little longer.”

Bumgarner said it has been good leadership and dedication at theairport that’s brought it toward the improvements in the worksnow.

“(Former Airport Manager) Clifford Britt got a lot of thisstarted,” he said. “And Dr. Morrow has come in and helped us finishit up. He’s doing a fantastic job and has been a real blessing tothe city.”

Morrow said the airport is an important asset to Brookhaven.

“It provides a window for people who live someplace else to dothose things they want to do in their hometown,” he said. “Going byaircraft allows them to come in and do that. We have lots ofbusinessmen who come into the airport, and lots of transienttraffic that comes through to buy gas or just stop.”

And with a courtesy car to offer pilots stopping in so that theycan drive into town to pick up lunch, it gives people a just alittle more incentive to stop here.

“People will stop here as opposed to someplace else, and they’rebuying things in Brookhaven,” the mayor said. “They’re stopping andhaving lunch, and maybe it’s only a $4.99 hamburger but that’s$4.99 that wasn’t here before.”