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Airport addressing safety concern

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

GREENCASTLE -- The Putnam County Airport is looking to correct a safety issue on the north end of its runway. The culprit is a hump in the runway, which poses a risk to the faster landing jets.

"We have received safety complaints," said Mike Clodfelter, president of Board Of Aviation Commissioners, which owns the 192-acre airport.

Clodfelter went before the Putnam County Commissioners Monday night and the Putnam County Council Tuesday to discuss the project and its impact on the airport.

Currently, Putnam County Airport holds a Class C rating for jet landings. If the project is not completed by Federal Aviation Administration's date in 2013, the airport could lose its rating.

Since Greencastle companies such as Crown and Dixie Chopper as well as DePauw University use the airport for its jets, losing the rating could have a negative economic impact on the community.

Even though the runway was expanded in 1996, it was before there were any jets based at the airport. Today, there are two based jets along with 19 single-engine aircrafts, four multi-engines, four helicopters and five ultra-light aircrafts.

"We have become a jet airport, which has caused this issue to arise," said Clodfelter.

Of the airport's 12,831 landings in 2009, 900 were jet landings. The project will be mostly funded through an FAA grant, but the county will still be responsible for a portion of the money. However, it has three years to accrue the funds.

"It will be a good investment for the community," said Putnam County Economic Development director Bill Dory at the council meeting. "The federal government is willing to invest in our community."

For every dollar spent by the county, FAA will be contributing $32. Clodfelter said the airport could encumber some funds to help offset the approximately $90,000 in 2013.

Commissioners unanimously gave its approval to continue with the project, which means an environmental assessment. Council member Roger Deck asked Clodfelter to put together some numbers on how much money will be expected from the county. Clodfelter agreed to have it ready for the June council meeting.

In other business:

* Treasurer Sharon Owens was granted approval by commissioners and council to replace her first deputy Barb Wood. It is the only full-time position in Owens' office.

* The Putnam County Sheriff's Department was granted approval from commissioners and council to replace an officer who resigned. Sheriff Steve Fenwick was also given approval by commissioners for the purchase of a patrol car out of the forfeiture fund.

* Putnam County Extension director Mark Evans received approval from county council to replace Melissa Archer, a part-time employee in his office.

* Greencastle resident Randy Neely went before the commissioners wondering when the county is expecting to receive money from the pipeline company to repair roads it ruined.

"We should receive the money Wednesday," president Gene Beck said.

Neely was also told the Putnam County Highway Department has had seven crews out patching the roads.



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