The Pine Bluff Aviation Commission is asking the Pine Bluff City Council to approve a resolution that would allow Grider Field Municipal Airport staff to discharge firearms and pyrotechnics at the airport to disperse wildlife from the runway.

The Pine Bluff Aviation Commission is asking the Pine Bluff City Council to approve a resolution that would allow Grider Field Municipal Airport staff to discharge firearms and pyrotechnics at the airport to disperse wildlife from the runway.

“At a conference I recently attended, the [Federal Aviation Administration] is highly recommending to airports to get wildlife depredation programs, and it is needed,” Airport Manager Doug Hale said at the commission’s meeting Thursday.

Hale said that deer, birds and coyotes have wandered onto the runway at times, posing a hazard to the safety of pilots and increasing the potential for accidents with property damage.

Currently, only law enforcement can discharge firearms or pyrotechnics within the city limits, Hale said he has been advised by the city’s legal staff.

Hale said that the state will not issue the wildlife depredation program permit without the passage of a local resolution enabling the airport staff to discharge firearms and pyrotechnics.

The proposed resolution is on the agenda for the city council’s meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday in council chambers at the civic complex.

If approved by the city council, Hale said the next step will be to forward the information to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, which Hale said he would expect to reply with the issuance of the permit within about a month.

In other business, the commission:

• Heard an update from Hale that the airport’s runway resurfacing project is officially complete. “The project is physically complete,” Hale said. “All the payments have been made. And I would like to add — at no cost to the city.” The $350,00 project was paid for by a combination of federal and state grants.

• Voted to allow Hale to enter into fee negotiations with an engineering firm to serve on retainer for airport construction projects. The contract is for three years, with the option to renew for two additional years. The commissioners ranked the engineering firms that responded to the airport’s request for proposal, and Hale will first try to negotiate an agreement with the commission’s first choice, McClelland Consulting Engineers Inc. of Little Rock, before moving on to the other three respondents, if necessary. Commissioner Kirby Mouser abstained from the vote.

• Voted to separate from the city’s worker’s compensation program and get its own worker’s compensation program through the Municipal League after Jan. 1, for a savings of about $2,100 a year, Hale said. If the airport remains accident free for two years, the savings will be even more, Hale said. Combining with the city for a worker’s compensation program has meant for higher costs because of departments like the police and fire departments, where on-the-job injuries are more likely.

• Heard from Hale that the airport offices, although not the runway itself, will be closed for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.