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Airport Authority considers developing new marketing plan

January 21, 2009
By Wayne Sheets, Contributing Business Writer

The Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority met with a Davis &?Elkins College economics professor Jan. 13 to discuss the possibility of students assisting in the creation of a marketing plan for the airport.

According Professor Harry Henderson, he is willing to have students in his spring semester class participate.

Henderson told board members he seeks these kinds or projects for his students as a means of giving them "real life" experiences in economics.

Article Photos

(CU?and The Inter-Mountain/Wayne Sheets)
PLANNING — Davis & Elkins College Economics Professor Harry Henderson, right, explains to Elkins-Randolph County Airport Authority member Chuck Stivers, left, and Brian Huffman of Chapman Engineering, center, how it might be possible for his spring semester students to assist in creating a marketing plan for the airport.

"This is the type of project we look for, but we will have to wait until I've had an opportunity to talk to the students to see if they are interested," Henderson said.

If the students are willing to accept the offer, he said the Airport Authority would have to appoint a committee of board members to provide guidance and supervision for the students.

"One area the students might look at is possible revenue producers that the airport people may have thought about but haven't had the time to contact," Henderson said.

Authority members are actively promoting the importance of the airport's role in the area's economic infrastructure and looking for aviation-related businesses and industry that would be interested in expanding their business or starting a new one at the airport.

To make the airport more attractive to business and industry, the authority recently purchased an 11-acre parcel of land that will facilitate the extension of runway 14-32, the crosswind runway. The board is also hoping to purchase additional property in the near future that will permit extending the primary runway, runway 5-23, which, in addition to being used for most normal operations, is used for landing at night and in inclement weather conditions.

Other planned updates include the repainting of runway markings and a Airport Air Analysis Survey. This digital survey of the airport and the immediate surrounding area will identify and locate hazards to aircraft attempting to land in dangerous weather conditions. The hazards are identified on instrument landing charts used by pilots during the approach phase of flight and have a bearing on the minimum altitude to which a pilot may descend when operating in stormy conditions.

Once completed, officials hope that by using cutting-edge instrument landing technology, the descent minimums can be lowered permitting better access to the airport in rough conditions.

Other issues discussed during the meeting were the compensation package for Airport Manager Dick Chaney. Authority members agreed to seek information from other agencies to determine if the manager's salary is competitive with other county employees.

Jack Pappas agreed to contact officials of the Mountain State Forest Festival to explore ways of involving the airport during festival events.

Chaney said that arrangements are under way to hold a "street-ready drag race" at the airport on July 4.

"Details are still being worked out," Chaney said, "but right now it appears that there's a good chance it will happen."

Randolph County Commissioner Julia Elbon updated authority members on the county's efforts to find a tenant for the Automated Flight Service Building.

According to Elbon, the building has been vacant since July 16, 2007. The Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Service Station functions performed there from August 1992 until it was consolidated and moved to Ashburn, Va.

The FAA still occupies a portion of the building and negotiations are under way to share the building with a new occupant or find a new location for FAA personnel.

If the FAA were to move, the entire building would be available to a new tenant.



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