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story.lead_photo.caption A plane used by Summit Aviation sits in front of the Summit Aviation office Monday, March 20, 2017, at Bentonville municipal airport. Plans for a new Flight Center on the Northwest side of the runway, which will become the main entrance to the airport, include space for some of Summit Aviation's operations, among other amenities. - Photo by Ben Goff

BENTONVILLE -- Change is coming to the municipal airport after the City Council hired a manager and approved money to complete the West Side Taxiway Project on Tuesday night.

The airport will have its first manager to oversee the daily responsibilities of the airport on an as-needed basis after the city hired Charles Chadwick, an attorney based in Fayetteville, to fill the position.

Travis Matlock, the city's engineer director, said this will be the first airport manager since he began working for the city 10 years ago. Most of the duties and responsibilities associated with the airport have fallen to officials in other departments over the years, such as the staff attorney or the engineer director.

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"That's not our primary job function," Matlock said. "This airport is growing at such a pace that it needs someone specifically dedicated to seeing to the day-to-day operations, the growth of the airport, walking through the funding of Federal Aviation Administration grants and all of the legwork and paperwork that is required of that."

He said Chadwick was the obvious choice because he already was helping out at the airport, had an understanding of FAA regulations and a good working relationships with many fixed-based operators in the region.

"It was really a no-brainer," Matlock said.

The contract is good for one year and starts in August, but the city could retain him for another three years based on his performance. He'll earn $5,000 a month with it coming out of the airport budget, Matlock said.

One of the responsibilities he'll have is to supervise construction of the taxiway, which the city received all the money for at one time instead of in two stages as officials thought it might have to be back in June.

"The FAA actually came back to us and said, 'There were some other airports in the region that did not meet their funding requirements,' so there was more money that became available," Matlock said. "They actually made the suggestion to us to redo our grant to cover the entire amount and they thought they could pass it through."

Mayor Bob McCaslin said the FAA already committed to provide the rest of the money needed to close the remaining gap, but the city would have to wait another year first.

"This is the best of all worlds," McCaslin said.

The project will allow hangars on the west side of the runway to access it without having to go through the east side of the airport.

It'll cost just over $2.54 million, according to a memo from Matlock to the council. Most of the money will come from a $2.27 million FAA grant and a state airport grant totaling just over $250,000.

The city will incorporate the remaining $18,095 into it's 2018 budget, Matlock said. It will go toward the part of the construction that isn't covered by the FAA grant because it didn't meet certain distance requirements of the FAA.

Tri Star Construction was awarded the contract work after putting in the lowest bid of around $2.25 million. The cost will be covered by the FAA grant.

The city also hired Garver LLC for construction services, totaling $290,100, which will also be covered by the grant.

The full taxiway will go along the northwest side of the runway and will cover about 600 feet. The airport has 14 hangars but almost all are on the east side, which is nearing capacity. There's only one hangar completely built on the west side, but three are under construction.

"The airport master plan shows that we should be able to put quite a few more out there," Matlock said.

He said construction should start around the end of August and should be finished by spring 2018.

"To be able to do this and have it funded in this matter is a real blessing; it's great," McCaslin said.

NW News on 07/26/2017

Print Headline: Airport gets new manager, money for taxiway

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