Stakeholders seek funds for parish airport

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 14, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Officials who met Tuesday to find ways to increase Concordia Parish Airport revenue said they will seek funds for eight hangars and an extension of the airport’s runway.

&uot;We’d like to have 10 T-hangars, or hangars made to house individual airplanes,&uot; said Johnny Blunschi III, Airport Authority chairman. &uot;We have one big hangar that holds eight airplanes, but it’s full now.&uot;

The group – including airport Manager Raymond Cowan, authority members, police jurors and others involved with the airport – also discussed seeking funding for a $450,000, 5,000-foot runway extension.

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&uot;That way, they could bring in corporate jets,&uot; said Juror Cathy Darden, who attended along with jury President Charlie Blaney.

The Macon Ridge Economic Development Region is helping the authority find federal and state funding – especially grants, which don’t have to be paid back – for such projects. &uot;We’re already working on getting the proposals in now,&uot; Darden, who works for Macon Ridge, said Wednesday.

She also said that installation of a global positioning system to help pilots land in low-visibility conditions is also on the airport’s wish list for the future, Darden added.

The authority is already being considered for a 90 percent federal, 10 percent state grant to fund a more than $1 million runway overlaying project.

&uot;I believe we’re well on our way to getting that,&uot; Blunschi said.

If the parish is to thrive, it must have a well-equipped airport, he said. &uot;The airport is a necessity if this area wants to progress, to attract new businesses and industries,&uot;&160;he added.

The airport, which was built in the 1960s, gained $24,751 in revenues in 1999 – mostly from police jury funds, petroleum product sales, rental and use fees.

Of that, it paid out $24,567 for such things as personnel, supplies, repairs and maintenance. The airport’s balance in cash and certificates of deposit was just $1,257 at the end of 1999.

The airport does have $893,949 worth of fixed assets, including land and facilities, but most involved with the facility agree that more cash needs to be raised.