Progress Continues on Effingham Airport Hangar

Feb. 14, 2022

Feb. 13—EFFINGHAM — Effingham County Memorial Airport commissioners received a progress report last week on a new hangar being built at the airport.

Airport Superintendent and County Engineer Greg Koester said construction for a new hangar owned by High Flight is underway at the airport. The structure is 112-by-100 feet and 37 feet, 3 inches high. It is big enough to house small jet aircraft.

The construction crew finished the trusses for the building on Tuesday, according to Airport Manager Jerry Tate. On Wednesday morning, workers were starting on the roof of the structure.

"At the end of the day, the building will be a nice improvement to the airport," Koester said.

As plans move forward on the 900-foot extension of runway 29 and parallel taxiway to the east, Koester said it is time to consider moving 1525th Street — the closest road to the end of runway 29. The road will need to be moved further east to keep it outside the Runway Protection Zone (RPZ).

The Federal Aviation Administration describes the RPZ as an area to protect property and people if an aircraft falls short of the runway on final approach to the airport or runs out of runway when and aircraft is attempting to take off. The road that needs to be moved further east is located in Watson Township and will be built on county-owned property.

Koester gave commissioners an agreement of understanding between the airport and Watson Township to review. He said the current road would remain open until the new road is constructed and the airport would pay for all roadway construction and road maintenance for two years following the construction of the road at the expense of the county.

"They ( Watson Township) should end up with a little better road than there is right now," he said.

The airport commission unanimously voted to send the agreement of understanding to Watson Township Highway Commissioner Steve Bergfeld.

In another matter, operation of the airport was discussed.

The airport is owned by Effingham County. Tate's Flying Service, owned by Leon Tate, was contracted by the county to operate the airport from 1984 until March 31 of last year. Leon Tate's son and current airport manager, Jerry Tate, created his own company, Tate's AV8, to take over airport management on April 1, 2021.

Koester said as the airport continues to grow and evolve he believes it is time to think about the county taking over management and maintenance of the airport.

"The airport commission has been considering employing Jerry Tate as airport manager," Koester said.

Since the airport is owned by Effingham County, the county board would need to approve a budget amendment because the change, if approved, would happen in the middle of a budget cycle. He said Tate's AV8's liability insurance policy ends March 31.

Koester said after consulting with Bushue Human Resources there is no need to advertise for an airport manager position. He said changes to the operations and maintenance of the airport will be discussed further during the next commissioners' meeting and Effingham County Board meeting in March.

In other business, commissioners voted unanimously to allow the airport superintendent to get a finalized quote for a sign to placed at the entrance of Airport Road that leads to the airport terminal along U.S. Route 45. The sign would be placed on county-owned property that is in Effingham City limits. Koester will share the final quote at the March meeting.

Before placing the sign, the county would need approval from the City of Effingham. Airport Commissioner Greg Koester, who is Effingham city planner, informed commissioners about the current city sign ordinance regulations. He said the content of the sign was also something the commission needs to take under consideration.

Airport Superintendent Greg Koester suggested the cost of the sign come out of the improvements budget.

Meanwhile, the commission discussed how the airport would benefit from the new federal bipartisan infrastructure bill.

The airport receives $150,000 annually in entitlement money from the federal government.

"This (infrastructure bill) will be an additional $159,000 a year for five years. That's almost $800,000," Koester said.

He said now they can determine the best way to use the money, which Koester suggested be partly used for the T-hangar project.

Charles Mills can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.


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