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City council approves contract for airport repaving

City leaders expressed hope May 12 that runway upgrades will lead to more business for Thomson-McDuffie Airport.

The city council approved a contract for complete runway repaving.

Reeves Construction of Augusta submitted the winning bid of $1,710,980 for about 2 inches of asphalt. The total cost of $1.8 million includes design, inspection and testing. The local share is 2.5 percent, or about $50,000. The city has about $200,000 available through the Special Purpose Local Income Tax, according to City Manager Don Powers.

The other asphalt bid was $2,078,545, submitted by C&H Paving of Thomson.

Bids were examined and reviewed by W.K. Dickson. That company was represented Thursday by Phil Eberly and Laren Crosby.

The contract also needs approval of county commissioners, who were scheduled to meet Tuesday.

Mayor Kenneth Usry asked whether the paving will help the airport attract larger planes. "Can we get an official rating from our runway so we can publish it?" he asked.

"It's not really so much the size of the airplane as it is the weight and how far they're going," Eberly said.

He said the improved runway strength can allow planes to carry more fuel, which allows for longer flights and more destinations.

Selling more fuel at Thomson would mean more aviation fuel tax collected here, Eberly said.

That fuel tax is the source of the federal share of the funding, 95 percent. The state Department of Transportation also will pay 2.5 percent.

In other business, the council approved two supervisory changes.

Lamar Fain is the interim waste water supervisor. He replaces Charles Montgomery, who retired. Fain is a Class 1 operator, and had worked under Montgomery for 17 years. Fain's application got a second closer look after an experienced, outside applicant withdrew his application. Fain will be paid $20.50 an hour. In a report submitted to the council, Powers said Fain is doing a good job and can be expected to take the position permanently in the future.

Calvin Leggett was approved as solid waste supervisor. He has filled that position on an interim basis for several months. "He is doing a very good job, is very customer-focused and follows the budget very carefully," Powers wrote. Leggett will be paid a salary equal to an hourly rate of $17.45.

The council agreed to release its interest in the former Georgia State Patrol building on Washington Road to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which plans to build a new district headquarters when funding becomes available.

The building has been empty since the GSP moved to Grovetown, and water damage resulted when pipes burst. The GBI has a headquarters building next-door, and keeps vehicles on the former GSP property.

The city and county retain interest in the building, but officials have said they have no pressing need for the property. Officials also have expressed concern about responsibility for building maintenance and lawn upkeep.

Mike Ayers, the special agent in charge of the local office, told the council that his agency has made arrangements for lawn care.

He said the possibility of acquiring the property, though mentioned just recently, received interest in his agency. He said funding for a new building is being pursued. "We're next on the list," Ayers said. "It is a distinct possibility."

Ayers said an examination of the property showed that it would cost more to refurbish the building than to demolish it and rebuild. He said such headquarters buildings cost about $1.2 million to $1.5 million. The local office serves 24 counties.

Usry reminded Ayers that the city and county would take possession of the property if he GBI should ever cease using the building.

Ayers explained that, by state law, other state agencies would be given first opportunity to take over the building. If there is no interest, the building would revert to the city and county, he said.

Deeding the property to the GBI also would require approval of the county commissioners. That topic was on that agency's agenda for Tuesday evening.

Ayers also said the state planned to close bids on a new crime scene garage on Friday.

Also, the council approved sharing the fire department training facility with the Town of Dearing Fire Department. Chief Rick Sewell planned to discuss the plan with McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Chief Bruce Tanner, whose department already shares the training area off Old Augusta Highway.

Dearing has offered to supply a building for use as a classroom. The city would pay to move the building. The city has money available to cut a road to the classroom site and lay gravel this year. Paving will wait for another budget.

The council also accepted a bid for cleaning police and fire uniforms. J&J Colonial Cleaners at 310 Greenway St. will keep the contract, which also includes alterations. J&J submitted the lower bid in each of six categories, including basic uniform cleaning for $3.95 each. White House Cleaners, 235 E. Hill St., also bid. Home Laundry, 234 Johnson Ave., did not bid.

Web posted on Thursday, May 19, 2011

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