Pine Bluff Aviation commissioners are in a holding pattern regarding leasing space at the Armory building at Pine Bluff Regional Airport Grider Field. Airport Manager Doug Hale gave an update at the commission’s meeting Thursday about LS Tractor Company regarding a proposed lease of the Armory. Hale said he wants to lease this building to someone to generate revenue.
At the September meeting of the Aviation Commission, Harvey Brock applied on behalf of LS Tractor Company to lease space at the Armory building for $200 per month. Hale said that LS Tractor Company hired a new chief executive officer who instructed Brock not to sign the lease pending further evaluation of the company as a whole.
“The incentives offered by the Alliance are based on the number of people employed at the facility,” Hale said. “In conversations with Harvey Brock, they are going to have one or two employees initially. Therefore, it would be a small carrot, instead of a large one in front of them. It’s not really advantageous.”
Commissioners Dr. Michele Pashkevich, Tommy Palmer, Ken Johnson and Kenneth Collins did not take a vote Thursday regarding leasing the Armory. Hale considered sending a letter to the LS Tractor chief executive officer, but Brock told him it would not do any good.
“There is still not a ‘no,’ but there is not a ‘yes’ either,” Hale said. “Harvey is a bit disappointed obviously about the whole thing because he had things lined up to do. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything further to report. … I am just as disappointed. We are all disappointed.”
LS Tractor USA, and its tractor manufacturing parent LS Mtron, are member companies of the LS Group, among the largest corporations in South Korea with annual sales of $30 billion, according to the corporation’s web site.
In Grider Field Aviation Museum news, Rickey Works gave an update about his organization’s efforts to raise money to preserve a World War II barracks at the airport.
“The good news for the museum is we did receive a grant in the amount of $10,000 from the Jefferson County Historical Society,” Works said. “We are going to take that money to put a roof on the building and start looking at what we can do on the outside to get siding sealed back up.”
Works said the organization hired a professional to do an asbestos survey who found asbestos is in the barracks building. He said the professional estimated the abatement of the asbestos will cost $22,000. Works said the organization members will meet in January to discuss next steps regarding the abatement of the asbestos.
In Black Pilots of America news, Johnson gave a plaque to Doug Hale for his work in supporting the Black Pilots of America pilots who visited Grider Field in May 2017.
In Mike’s Flight Service news, company owner/pilot Mike Lain reported that he is teaching a 68-year-old student pilot who approached Lain about six months ago seeking lessons. Lain said the man began working on his pilot license in 1986 and wanted to finish it.
“He bought an aircraft, and he passed his check ride this past month,” Lain said.
Lain said he has one active student and three prospective students.
In Arkansas Civil Air Patrol news, Lain said this organization has not seen any changes.
In Grider Field Restaurant news, manager Stanley Harper said the restaurant was busy until recently and has seen fewer customers in the days leading into Christmas.
In scheduling news, Hale said the airport offices will be closed on Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Commissioners Keidra Burrell, Harvey Sizemore and Rocky Thornburgh were absent.