Airport approves wildlife program agreement
By Tesa Glass
MT. VERNON — The Mt. Vernon Outland Airport Board approved an $11,000 contract with the United States Department of Agriculture for the its wildlife program.
“This gives our airport a margin of safety more than most airports around,” said Chris Collings, the airport manager. “In the eyes of the (Federal Aviation Administration) it makes us look more safe by having the USDA here doing it instead of just having us doing it. When we have our FAA inspection, it really comes into play. When it comes to nuts and bolts, the FAA allows airports that are doing routine presence to get out of doing a wildlife study every five years.”
At this time a representative from the USDA is on site at the airport for two or three days each month. The same person is also in Marion for two or three days and spends the remainder of the month at Scott Air Force Base. Collins said having a person on site routinely saves the airport in the long run, as the five-year Wildlife Study has a $35,000 to $50,000 price tag.
“If we didn’t have the routine presence, the FAA could come in at any moment and say, ‘hey, your last Wildlife Study was done in 2010. It’s time to do another one,’” Collins explained. “Or, if there were a strike, they would immediately come and say it’s time to do another Wildlife Study. Then we have to spend the big money. But by doing routine presence, we get out of doing that.”
In other business, the Airport Board approved a change order of $9,300 for the Hangar A-800 revitalization project. The change was needed due to a need to fix the building after new door columns are welded to the existing ones.
The board also heard an update on the restaurant. Collins reported he was expecting a proposal, which did not appear.
“I wish I had more news for you, sadly, I don’t,” Collins said.
“(Administrative Assistant Sheila Scrivner) and I met with a very experienced and very qualified restaurant manager about a week ago. We were expecting a proposal on Monday so we could review it and talk to you guys about it tonight, but that did not materialize.”
Collins said he has tried to contact the restauranteur, but his phone messages had not been returned before the board meeting.
“I know it’s a terrible time to try to open a restaurant, but we will just keep trying,” Collins said.