Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hillsboro, Kansas: Council may open airport to aerial sprayers

The Hillsboro City Coun­cil agreed in principle at its April 22 meeting to a proposal that would open the municipal airport as a base for aerial spraying operations.

Mike Kleiber, owner of Ag Service Inc., said his company would like to use the local airport because it would reduce flying time and the expense for producers who want fungicide applied to fields in the area.

Ag Ser­vice has contracted the aerial services of Tyree Ag Inc., based in Kingsley. The planes have been flying the past three years out of the Marion airport, which has a runway that is 600 feet shorter than Hillsboro’s runway.

The shorter runway impacts the takeoff operations of the firm’s pilots, City Admini­strator Larry Paine reported.

Paine said Hillsboro currently has a provision in the city code that prohibits aerial spraying operation from using the airport. The ban was initiated after a spraying company damaged the runway and grounds by not following appropriate procedures.

Paine said core drilling by engineers has indicated the Hillsboro runway can handle planes weighing up to 12,500 pounds. A plane fully loaded with fungicide would weigh less than that, according to Tim Tyree, Tyree Ag owner, who was present at the meeting.

The proposal had been reviewed by the Airport Board. Chairman Lyle Leppke suggested that the city consider a one-year trial period.

In response to questions from the council, Tyree said the fungicide would not pose a chemical threat if a spill would occur. He also said planes could veer away from residential areas upon takeoff.

The only inconvenience to residents, Tyree suggested, could be noise as planes take off and land.

Mayor Delores Dalke suggested that the city ask aerial spraying companies to apply for a city permit to use the airport—much like contractors do for housing projects. That way, she said, the city could deny companies that have an unsatisfactory performance record.

Kleiber said timing could be an issue. If it were to start raining for a few days, the need to apply fungicide would develop quickly. But in lieu of that, the council likely will take action to repeal the current ordinance and approve a new one at the next meeting.

If it would happen to rain sufficiently before that meeting, planes could use the Marion airport again as they have the past three years.

Source:   https://www.hillsborofreepress.com