County board approves several resurfacing projects at airport

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

The Houston County Airport, located two miles south of Caledonia, will be receiving a little sprucing up.

The Houston County Board approved a motion to resurface the taxiways around the airplane hangars and also the access road from Highway 76 to the airport.

The board discussed several improvement options with County Engineer Brian Pogodzinski, who also serves as the airport manager, during the Feb. 28 board meeting.

Pogodzinski informed the board that if the county had any plans for improvement projects at the airport, federal authorities had to be notified by March 1.

The county had $43,000 budgeted for airport improvements. The money for improvement projects comes from a federal grant, which is generated by an aviation fuel tax. The county receives $150,000 each year through this fund.

Pogodzinski outlined four different options, which included:

• A runway overlay project that would cost $265,000. This project would be a 90-10 match, with the county’s portion being $26,500.

• Resurfacing the runway apron area, which would cost $77,000. The county’s share would be $10,500.

• Resurfacing the area between the hangars. The county’s share would be $18,000.

• Converting the gravel parking lot to an asphalt parking lot. The county’s share would be $2,500.

• Resurfacing the access road. The county’s share would be $2,500.

Pogodzinski recommended that the county do options 3, 4, and 5, which would be approximately $23,000 plus engineering fees. He said it wouldn’t be wise to do an overlay project on the runway because there is the potential that the runway will be rebuilt within three years if the county moves forward with the airport improvement project.

Pogodzinski noted that the runway is still rated at a “22” on a scale of 1 to 100 (with 100 being the top rating). Four years ago the runway was rated at a 31 and has dropped nine points in four years.

“If the condition of the runway drops below a 10, it is regarded as a failed runway and would be closed down. I feel we can go at least another year or two before we have to do anything with the runway. By then, we should know which direction we will be taking as far as the airport improvement project,” Pogodzinski said.

Commissioner Justin Zmyewski said he agreed with resurfacing the areas around the hangars. “Airplane props are expensive and there are some major holes that need to be fixed.”

But Zmyewski added that he didn’t think the county needed to pave the gravel parking lot right now. “Is there really enough use to warrant paving it?” he asked Pogodzinski.

Pogodzinski replied that the county would be doing some shaping of the land around the hangars to improve drainage and would be reshaping portions of the parking lot as well. He added with the limited amount of traffic on the parking lot, it probably wouldn’t have to be paved.

“If we end up doing the improvement project, we could do it then,” Pogodzinski added.

A motion by Zmyewski and seconded by Commissioner Steve Schuldt to repave the areas around the hangars and the access road was unanimously approved.

In other board action:

Airport EA study completed

Pogodzinski reported that the environmental assessment study has been completed and copies are available at the County Courthouse, the Highway Department building and at public libraries in the county. Persons interested in reviewing the study can check a copy out.

A public hearing on the EA study has been scheduled from 6 to 8 p.m. on March 26 at the conference room at the Justice Center.

Personnel issue

The board approved a recommendation made by HR Director Tess Arrick-Kruger to name Karen Sanness as the interim Social Services Supervisor, effective Feb. 29. Sanness will be banded at a C-52, Step 4 status with an annual salary of $53,248.

Kruger said there were three very qualified persons who applied for the position. All three persons were interviewed by the search committee.

Veterans Service

Houston County Veterans Service Director Rob Gross requested he be allowed to be part of the National Guard reintegration process for troops returning from the Middle East.

In the past, the majority of returning troops that originated from the Midwest went through the process at Ft. McCoy in Wisconsin. But this process will be held at Ft. Hood in Texas. Gross said that he would only be working at Ft. Hood for two days.

“If need be, I’ll take vacation to cover this,” he told the board.

Board Chairman Jack Miller said this was a very valuable service to the men and women who serve their country and didn’t see why Gross be required to take vacation time for this.

A motion was made by Zmyewski and seconded by Commissioner Teresa Walter to allow Gross to be part of the reintegration process. The motion was unanimously approved.

Flooring bid

The board approved the low bid to have vinyl tile installed in the courthouse hallway adjacent to the old courtroom. The county is in the process of renovating the former courtroom into a county board meeting room.

The low bid was submitted by the Floor Guys of Eitzen at $3,354.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]