Airport gets $3 million grant for improvements

Friday, June 6, 2014

By Karen Hall


Lewisburg Mayor Jim Bingham was pleased to announce Wednesday that Ellington Airport has been selected to receive a $3 million grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, Aeronautics Division.

The grant will cover widening of the runway, a new overlay, taxiway repairs, and new lighting. The City's match for this grant is just 5 percent, or $150,000, another thing that pleased Bingham.

It will be a while before work starts at the airport, said City Manager Randall Dunn Thursday morning.

"There's a lot of process to go through," he said.

First, an engineering and design firm has to be selected, then they have to draw up the plans for the work, and bids have to be solicited. Finally, when a contractor is chosen, the work can begin.

Bingham said, "Our aviation facility is a critical part of the economic development for our community as well as the State and it is imperative that we continuously strive for improvements and sustainability. We are very grateful for the Council's support to assist in the funding of this project."

Bingham acknowledged the diligence and hard work of the Airport Advisory Board and Airport Manager Clay Derryberry.

"Without their efforts and guidance this grant would not have been possible," the mayor concluded.

The good news about winning the grant was overshadowed by the announcement of the death of James Chapman, chairman of the Lewisburg Gas Board.

"He was a gentleman of the first order," said Bingham. "We lost a good man, a good servant to this community."

Problems at the Recreation Center continue demand the attention of the mayor and councilmen.

The outdoor pool was filled on May 20, hoping than the aging liner would hold up for one more season, but this was not to be.

It was losing an estimated 10,000 gallons per day, Dunn said, so the decision was made to empty the pool and remove the liner.

Consulting engineers will be here today to evaluate the pool and also problems with the Rec Center building itself which are causing cracks and water damage.

"The City of Lewisburg is committed that there be an outdoor pool," said Bingham, who went on to say that the costs of repairs to the Rec Center and the pool are "the elephant in the room," when it comes to budget discussions, which started this week and will continue for the rest of the month.

Recreation Director Jimmy Stitt has resigned.

"He was an excellent person," said Bingham. "This is a loss for Lewisburg."

The mayor and city council will hold their June meeting next Tuesday, starting with a public hearing at 5:50 p.m., and moving on to the regular meeting at 6 p.m.

One of the agenda items under "New Business" is, "Consider approval of resolution to censure Councilman Robin Minor."

Dunn explained this relates to an incident on May 19, during which Minor displayed unacceptable behavior in relation to treatment of an employee. This was witnessed by Dunn and three other councilmen. Dunn declined to give the name of the employee, but it was supplied to the Tribune by Toby Adams, who said it was Jimmy Stitt.

"If he'd kept the water in that pool, we wouldn't be looking at a $1 million problem right now," exclaimed Adams, referring to the fact that Stitt had the pool drained every fall, and left it empty over the winter.