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Calvert seeks infrastructure grant for fixed-base operator at airport

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Now is the time for Calvert City leaders to begin lobbying Kentucky’s congressional delegation for a share of the Biden Administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate last week. That was the word from aviation consultant Tim Haskell to the city council at its Aug. 9 meeting.

A grant provided by that bill — if it passes the House and is signed into law — would fund a box hangar with a fixed base operator at Kentucky Dam Airport, Haskell indicated.

Mayor Gene Colburn said emails expressing the city’s need would go to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and First District U.S. Rep. James Comer the next day. “The secret to keeping (the airport) on the map is the foundation of that fixed base operator,” Colburn said.

Haskell explained that his team at Hanson Professional Services Inc. has put together a white paper the purpose of which “is for you to add to your bucket list in your discussions with the local congressional district.” He said the last stimulus bill still has a significant amount of money, and this administration “has decided that earmarks aren’t so bad. So … it was announced recently that each legislator would have the ability to have projects (funded) that meet certain criteria. The construction of a hangar to enhance business for general aviation airports is one of them. That is what we have put together for you — box hangar.” The hangar would be up to 100 feet by 100 feet and accommodate the fixed base operator. “We have a simple budget for that particular building that would allow you to advertise and find a fixed base operator with the intent of having a mechanical field,” Haskell said.

Colburn said the actions of the airport board and the expectations at the airport have exceeded his expectations. “We’ve had some very good support on this and so now the opportunity keeps on flowing,” he said. “It’s almost scary how quickly it’s going. It’s really accelerated — the identification of yet another expenditure here.”

Regarding ongoing airport projects, Haskell said he is waiting for the state Department of Aviation to complete its Memorandum of Understanding with the state for this year’s federal entitlement funding of $666,666. The MOU will allow Haskell to give notice to proceed with an environmental and aerial survey and the first-phase the airport layout plan. An airport layout plan is a scaled, geographical presentation of the existing and future airport facilities, their location on the airport campus and pertinent clearance and dimensional information. “KDA will be on schedule if they get that MOU completed in the next couple of weeks, and we can give notice to proceed by Sept. 1.”

Haskell added that environmental field representative Shawn Gibbs has performed an assessment at the airport. And she is scheduled to be on site the first week in September to complete permitting required for runway tree clearance. Because of an endangered bat species, the trees may be cut only between Oct. 15 and Nov. 30.

On another issue Councilman Kevin Stokes mentioned the city has taken over maintenance at Haddox Ferry Landing. He noted that “the county came and removed tables down there.” Public Works Director Brad Darnall said two tables were left.

“We did receive notice from the county just before the sesquicentennial … that it had come to their attention that Arkema owns the property, and the county could not do maintenance down there any longer, and they took a barbecue grill,” Colburn said. “I’ve approached the Tennessee River Line to try to get a master plan (developed) for down there. I want to get us something that’s better to use there.”

Colburn explained that the late Mayor Lynn Jones signed a document with Arkema giving Calvert City a lease on the ferry landing site until 2099. “So we’ve got some time, and we can make an investment down there. We don’t have to worry about losing control of it,” he said. “There are some stipulations on that but very minor. It’s Arkema’s land but they are very much in favor of having a park down there and public access. There are also some other stakeholders. The road is still a state right-of-way; the actual road and the ramp into the river is state. It wasn’t leased to us by Arkema from the document that I saw”

The mayor said there is considerable maintenance needed at the site including stabilizing the river bank near the pavilion. “The Tennessee River Line, which is a program of the University of Tennessee (at Knoxville) is really interested in recreation along the river, so I think we’re going to get some help there,” Colburn said. “It is disappointing that we haven’t gotten cooperation from the county on that.”

Loyd Ford, publisher of The Lake News, told the council “if there’s anything I can do to help you with Haddox Ferry … I’d like to do it because there’s a lot of history down there that we’re going to lose.”

“We’re not going to lose it; the city has the lease, and I think it’s important that we do something, and I believe that we will,” Colburn replied.

Ford reminded the council that there are grants through the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation for docks and for design work.

In other business the council:

• Revised its overtime policy for city employees. “If you don’t work in excess of 40 hours (per week), you don’t qualify for the mandatory overtime,” said City Administrator John Ward, noting that the policy change allows the city to count sick or vacation time toward 40 hours. “This would not change the parks’ overall budget more than $2,000 in any given year,” Ward said. The change doesn’t apply to the water department.

City employees thanked the council for the change. Police chief David Elliott said his officers have complained about (overtime) for years “because we have always gotten the shaft on holidays.” The issue had been brought before the council before, Elliott said.

• Scheduled a special workshop meeting for 5 p.m. Aug. 26 to discuss housing and the duties and job description of a code enforcement officer the city plans to hire. Funding for his/her salary is in this year’s budget.

• Voted to put a surplus high-mileage 2003 150 single-cab pickup truck up for bids on GovDeals. The vehicle was purchased for the parks department and has been used by the street and sanitation departments.

• Announced a benefit walk for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Aug. 18 from Memorial Park to Old Park and back. The event was proposed by David Chumbler and he is promoting it.

• Clarified the city’s ordinance regarding the use of golf carts after dark in response to a question from Councilman Jeremy Rowe. The ordinance prohibits golf carts on city streets and trails after dark with or without lights.

Ward said golf carts have always been prohibited on U.S. 62, in response to a comment from Councilwoman Tanara Babcock. Babcock mentioned that a constituent had told her about driving a cart to Kentucky Dam State Resort Park and being stopped from using it at the park by a park ranger. Elliott said the state park has two rangers, one who enforces the state park’s prohibition of using private golf carts, and one who does not.

• Approved Colburn’s appointment of Barry Travis to the water and sewer board.

• Confirmed that Kim Steel, whose reappointment to the cemetery board was put on hold last month, has moved outside the city. Councilwoman Neeta Hale said there are enough qualified people who live in and pay city taxes to fill board vacancies. “That is no reflection on Kim,” she said. No one was named to fill the vacancy.

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