Clinton County Port Authority discusses need for infrastructure

By Nathan Kraatz -

WILMINGTON — The Clinton County Port Authority met Thursday, discussing the need for infrastructure improvements and the availability of funding for those improvements at the Wilmington Air Park.

“The biggest challenge that we have ongoing is really the maintenance of the airstrip itself,” said the port’s chairperson, Walt Rowsey. “Our biggest concern, for the foreseeable future, will be really to make sure that we have the funding that does the appropriate amount of maintenance to the airstrip.”

Rowsey said the sheer cost of repairs to the airstrip make financing those repairs difficult, while increased activity makes it more important.

As previously reported, earlier this week Ohio’s legislators decided to allot $3 million of the state’s capital budget to the air park for infrastructure improvements.

Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers shared that information at the board’s meeting.

“The list of people to thank for this is probably one per dollar,” Evers said. “It’s a pivotal opportunity for us to make meaningful improvements at the airpark on the aviation side and continue to elevate this operation and this facility.

Evers said “the overwhelming majority of it will be repair to runways, ramps and taxiways.”

In related news, the port’s board resolved Thursday to apply for a 2017 Ohio Department of Transportation’s Office of Aviation grant to complete pavement resurfacing and reconstruction at five sites at the airpark. Evers said the port has identified $400,000 in eligible projects and intends to leverage no more than $84,000 in matching money to help secure that grant.

The port also:

• Amended the 2016 budget to reflect higher fees collected as a result of increased activity at the airpark as well as increased costs primarily due to legal fees, according to board member Larry Laake.

• Agreed to pay a $186,000 premium to the County Risk Sharing Authority, which insures the airpark.

• Agreed to purchase lawn mowing equipment from Bane-Welker Equipment not to exceed $49,000.

• Agreed to purchase 20 LPD antennas and support components from Thales Defense & Security not to exceed $200,000. Evers said the antennas are necessary to replace current antennas in order to maintain the airpark’s CAT-II certification and needed for CAT-III certification, which allow airplanes to land in reduced visibility.

• Heard from Wilmington resident Paul Hunter, who urged the port to consider underwriting bonds as a way of developing the economy and earning revenue. “We haven’t been confronted with a whole lot of opportunities to provide that type of service,” Rowsey said. “We need to do a better outreach to the businesses and the community and also the other parts of Clinton County … to make sure they understand that we can provide some help for lower-cost financing for some projects.”

Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.

By Nathan Kraatz