Members of the Pine Bluff Aviation Commission discussed further plans for construction projects, Thursday morning, following a hail storm that left a considerable amount of damage to structures at Grider Field Airport.

The meeting was called to order by Commission chairmen, Ken Johnson, at 11 a.m. in the airport's conference room.

Members of the Commission discussed plans to correct damage from the March 10 hail storm that blew through the city. Damages were estimated at $1.5 million dollars and were temporarily repaired by the approved vendor, Harold Hall Roofing Inc.

Temporary elastomeric coating was applied to hangers one and two at Grider Field, to prevent major leaking until the airport's insurance claim has been settled and repairs can continue as planned.

In the long run, Grider Field Airport faces the decision between replacing the metal on their old, World War II hangers with new metal coated in silver seal and opting for Duro-last roofing which comes with a 20 year warranty and 20 year application warranty that allows for future repairs to be addressed by the installing company.

Commission members favor the idea of using Duro-last, which will also provide insulation for the hangers that currently lack it over replacing the metal of the historic hangers and disturbing the structures. As mentioned in the meeting, replacing the metal would prove to be a difficult task due to the 1941 construction techniques used in the building of these hangers.

Plans for the airport's new highway sign are also underway. It is being fabricated with hopes of completion this week. Arkansas Correctional Industries will deliver the sign while airport staff will install the sign at a location to be determined. A meeting will be held in July to discuss final plans for the sign including a possible location for installation.

The sign will be made with a powder-coated metal, and will be painted as opposed to the traditional vinyl used by most companies.

An analysis of the airport's financial reports for the month of May showed that the cost of goods sold was $35,311 with gross profit for the month being $33,337, making total profit earned $68,648.

Operating expenses totaled $17,718, which included BPA (Black Pilots of America) expenses, a weed trimmer, and a down payment on a new card reader system installed at the airport's self-service station. The card reader, installed by Rebel Services LLC, can be used with a mobile phone, is user-friendly, and resulted in the riddance of one phone line, which was much desired by the Commission.

Out of the initial $2,789.30 net income earned during the month of May, $1,276 came from operating income, $1,898 was from other income which included tax returns, and $386 was allocated to other expenses leaving the airport with $1,512 of income. Administrative expenses came to be $14,342.

After transferring $2,000 from the airport's primary account to their construction account, the remaining balance is $802.84. The $2,000 transfer will be reimbursed, and placed back into the primary account.

Becca Harrison, auditor for Porterfield and Company CPA PLLC, confirmed via conference call that she found no concerning findings with their financial report. Harrison revealed that the airport was performing significantly well compared to reports from 2017.

Harrison also mentioned that the airport was doing well with reducing and maintaining low expenses, while contrarily increasing their amount of revenue which increased $26,000 from the previous year.

Although the airport is in ideal standing when it comes to financial reports, there has still been no approval for the 88 Grant being pursued by the airport, which has been instructed to revisit the amount of money being requested by Jerry Chism, director of the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

The grant is currently in phase three of four, and has already been funded for phases one and two. Due to a decrease in tax revenues from fuel, maintenance parts, the selling of aircraft which the ADA relies on for revenue, funding has been put on hold for the last phase until the organization solidifies sufficient funds.

At the moment, the Commission is waiting the approval of the design-only portion of the grant that has already been endorsed by Mayor Shirley Washington and submitted to the Federal Aviation Administration. If the grant is approved, an ordinance will need to be drafted and approved by the city council.

Aside from construction efforts, new business ventures show a promising future for the airport as members of the International Aerobatic Club propose using Grider Field Airport as their practice space for the Aerobatic Box, an area used for air competitions. Costs incurred would be taken care of by the organization.

Johnson expressed that this was a good idea since the IAC draws large crowds for their air competitions which would benefit both the airport and the city of Pine Bluff. As of now, these arrangements have not been finalized but will be pursued.