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Airport Reports Progress

By Wayne Allen
Portsmouth Daily Times
Thursday, January 15, 2015, p. 3

Representatives from the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport presented their annual report to the Scioto County Commissioners this week. The report highlights the activities the airport board undertook in 2014.

The Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport did not get approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) forgrant money on 2014. Officials are in the process of applying for money in 2015, with particular projects in mind, such as conducting an environmental study and engineering for fill dirt at the end of runway 36.

When the Scioto County Commissioners signed a letter of support for the Portsmouth Bypass in 2013, they also asked the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to consider using some of the anticipated 25 million yards of access dirt, generated from the project, at the Portsmouth Regional Airport in Minford to extend runways.

“We believe that the construction of the Portsmouth Bypass, the extension of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport is necessary to address the safety, mobility and economic needs of this area of the state,” the letter stated. Kathleen Fuller, ODOT District 9 spokesperson, said before fill dirt could be used at the airport some environmental work needs to be completed.

“I talked to our project team here and there was some discussion back in the spring of 2013 about the possibility concerning the airport. Our guys met with the airport board and basically said, they would have to go through the developer about the possibility of placing any fill,” Fuller said. “They also told them they would have to complete an environmental work done first, before any dirt could ever be transferred.”

Other projects include new pavement for north ramp and engineering and fill to prepare site for new large hanger north of ramp.

In December the commissioners appointed courthouse maintenance supervisor Phil Lajoye interim-manager of the Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport. With the appointment, the airport board ended an agreement they had with a cleaning service. Scioto County Commissioner Mike Crabtree said Lajoye has a team of people that will take care of the janitorial work at the airport.

“What Phil does is he goes out there (Greater Portsmouth Regional Airport) periodically and has people who do janitorial work. They maintain that on a day-to-day basis,” Crabtree said. “This is a part-time thing and is not something that takes a full-time staff,”

Commissioner Doug Coleman said the Greater airport board has indicated they are pleased with the work Lajoye is doing.

“That basically makes Lajoye the current airport manager, until something else is done. This is kind of an experimental thing,” Crabtree said. “We’re trying to cut costs out at the airport, to figure out how it could be done more efficiently and it seems to be working.”

Coleman said the county gives the airport about $15,000 a year. He said that equates to what the airport was spending for maintenance. Crabtree believes a portion of that funding may be returned for the county, with Lajoye taking over management.

Crabtree said the airport board is handling the basic functions of the airport.

“His (Lajoye) main purpose is to make the airport look good and it seems to be going be good and better than they were,” Crabtree said.

Crabtree acknowledged the short-term fix with bringing Lajoye on board could turn into a long-term solution.

Also in 2014 Healthnet Aeromedical Services Base4/Medflight 7 relocated its base of operations to the airport. The base includes living quarters which is staffed with a crew 24/7.

The airport also entered into a contract for use of farm land around the airport.

Jeff Burke, said the Portsmouth Bypass is set to begin construction in March with one of two exits in front of the airport.Burke said the airport is excited to see the construction on the bypass begin.

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT

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