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Business said to be eying airport cite
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The civilian joint-management board for the MidCoast Regional Airport at Wright Army Airfield on Friday met with a potential industrial client to discuss a proposed lease agreement. The unnamed company’s representatives voiced concerns over the airport’s proposed runway and tarmac-expansion projects.
The proposed runway expansion would extend the runway to 6,500 feet.
The estimated cost of the project is approximately $8.7 million, according to LCDA director of finance and administration Carmen Cole. Cole said the cost is part of the regular capital-improvements program and is not slated specifically for the proposed project.
Funding for the proposed runway expansion would come from the Georgia Department of Transportation, the Federal Aviation Authority and possibly from state or federal programs, she said.
“The local entities would fund approximately 3 percent of the cost, which will be split among the city (Hinesville), Liberty County and the development authority,” Cole said.
The JMB is keeping its prospective client’s identity under wraps in honor of a confidentiality agreement the board has with the company.
The Liberty County Board of Commissioners, the city of Hinesville and the Liberty County Development Authority collaborate on overseeing the airport. Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette, Hinesville Mayor Jim Thomas and LCDA Chairman Allen Brown are voting members on the airport’s joint-management board.
Thomas and Brown were present at the meeting along with two of the unnamed company’s representatives; LCDA CEO Ron Tolley; Cole; Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards; Tony Greene with the Georgia Department of Economic Development, Aerospace, Defense and Advanced Manufacturing Global Commerce division; and Chuck Hunsaker, also with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
Paul Simonton, whose engineering firm P.C. Simonton & Associates has a current engineering-service contract with the development authority, also sat in on the meeting.
Representatives from the prospective industrial client said the proposed runway and tarmac expansions are necessary for them to bring in heavy aircraft with wingspans of 84 feet. In addition, the company execs want the airport to refurbish the existing hangar and build two more hangars to accommodate the company’s bigger planes, as well as provide them the necessary office space and storage.
The prospective client told the airport joint-management board they want lease agreements finalized by Dec. 1.  The unidentified company’s lead executive said he had a list of about 50 conditions that had to be addressed in the proposed lease agreement.
Thomas suggested all who are involved in or impacted by the proposed project — Fort Stewart, the Army National Guard, contractors and county and city governments — should meet to be sure they’re “all on the same page.”

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