Task force to be established for airport improvements

Approval was given to appoint a special task force to examine potential improvements at Avenger Field during the Sweetwater City Commission meeting on Tuesday morning, January 8, 2013 at City Hall.Addressing the commission was Bill Johnson, who has observed some safety issues at the airport, one of which deals with lighting.With lights only at two spots of the airport at this time, he said that the lack of lighting could prove to be dangerous. The other concern noted was that of the pilot and passenger facilities and identities. Citing a recent article on an area airport who made recent improvements--thus making it a "more inviting" environment to attract business owners, Johnson stated that a similar venture could be an opportunity to improve the Sweetwater facility. Especially as the potential oil boom makes its way to the area, Johnson would be willing offer his help and services to possibly remodel or spruce up the airport.Discussion was held among the commission on whether a task force should be gathered to report to the Airport Zoning Board--who would then bring recommendations to the City Commission--or whether the board could take on that responsibility. While the task force could be comprised of active pilots and business leaders who frequently travel by air, the Airport Zoning Board is made up of three appointees from the city, along with two county members and a joint appointee. With some of the terms expiring, Johnson would be willing to join the Airport Zoning Board.City Manager Eddie Brown stated that the airport board works on obtaining grants, but that the next grant cycle is set for October 2014 and only offers assistance for runway lights. Thus, money for the airport would have to come from a private donor.Johnson also informed the board about a pilot who recently stopped at Avenger Field, in which the poor lighting impacted his stop. Johnson praised the facilities of the airport, but noted that improvements were necessary.As a result, the motion was made and approved to make Johnson the chairman of the task force and allowing him to select four members. The committee would stand for six months, in which their recommendations would be given to the Airport Zoning Board who would then submit any recommendations to the City Commission.