Thursday, August 5, 2010
Airport, sheriff look at grants
By SUE WATSON
The Holly Springs-Marshall County Airport is wrapping up its taxiway extension project and looking ahead for future funding for runway extension so the airport can attract larger jets.
Justin Hall, airport administrator, reported to the Marshall County Board of Supervisors July 19. A small grant for $38,000 will fund a runway extension study and pay for property purchases on work already done, he said.
Federal Aviation Administration funds have helped make annual improvements at the airport. Funds have recently been used to secure the property with a chain-link fence, extend the taxiway the length of the current runway, spiff up the beacon and build a fuel farm.
The current grant will require only a 2.5 percent local match from the city and county, and a 2.5 percent state match, with the remainder coming from federal sources.
Bill Mobley, with the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said he envisions extending the runway to 5,000 feet in one big leap, if possible, rather than in increments going up to 4,200 feet first. A 5,000 foot runway will draw more traffic - larger jets - that would otherwise land in Oxford or Olive Branch, he said. Holly Springs could get a lot of overflow traffic from game weekend traffic because the Oxford-University airport cannot handle all the traffic during those times. He said with enough traffic, the airport could eventually see a rental car business come on board so travelers can get to and from their destinations like Oxford.
Two industries in the area already use the airport every week or every day, Mobley said. And John Jewell Aircraft is known worldwide for its work on small planes and is certified to work on small jets, he said.
Progress on the airport’s 20-year plan is ahead of schedule because of the assistance that the FAA has provided in recent years, he said, adding that the airport authority has good relationships with FAA officials.
The board of supervisors approved applying for the grant for the runway extension study.
Supervisor Ronnie Joe Bennett said there is still acreage inside the airport that can be developed, while supervisor George Zinn III asked about development around the airport. Mobley said there is privately owned land that could be available for development outside the airport.
Hall reported that the FAA has funded airport improvements to the tune of $3.6 million in recent years, including the matching dollars coming from the city and county.
Major David Cook, with the Marshall County Sheriff’s Department, followed Hall in updating supervisors on the need to be ready to apply for Homeland Security grants in October. Sheriff’s deputies met with a consulting group recently to discuss the types of projects the department could apply for.
Cook said they informed the consultants the sheriff’s department will be interested in applying for federal funds that require no matching or few matching dollars. If the department joins in contract with the prospective consultant group, their fee would come directly from grant monies that are successfully obtained, he said.
The department will also have to work to draw together data supporting any grant application, he said.
Cook said federal dollars available for Homeland Security projects total $900 million while the state will receive $18 million of that authorization. He said the department wants input from the board of supervisors.
Supervisor Keith Taylor asked if any dollars would be available for equipment or to expand the jail.
“Homeland Security is for the security and safety of the public,” he said. “It is more toward preparing for a response to a situation, but there may be some money available to get some personnel. Infrastructure was mentioned more toward response or prevention of an incident. My first impression is there is no money for building.”
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