Saturday, December 19, 2015

DeKalb County Airport (KGWB) ends year in good shape

AUBURN — The DeKalb County Airport Authority board presented a “year in review” report Friday at its final meeting of 2015.

Approximately 80 aircraft currently are housed at the airport, after two new buildings with 11 new hangar units were built last spring on the airport’s northeast side. Once the airport has 100 based aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration is more likely to commit grant funds for various projects, said engineer Paul Shaffer of Butler, Fairman and Seufert.

Airport Manager Russ Couchman said the airport is ending the year in good financial shape, with an estimated $1.1 million in cash. Board President Brad Hartz said he is looking forward to the future.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” Hartz said. “It gets us excited for the year coming up.”

Lara Gaerte, owner of DeKalb airport’s fixed-base operator, Century Aviation, said though there are plenty of planes at the airport, pilots aren’t flying them. She said fuel sales from the airport weren’t at the levels she’d like to see, even though the prices are competitive. Couchman said the airport staff had discussed implementing incentives for flights, but he wasn’t sure if such policies were permitted.

Gaerte pointed out other 2015 highlights including the airport’s hosting of a canine training day for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department and a visit from a World War II-era B-17 bomber, owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association. The bomber’s midweek visit was unscheduled, and Gaerte was proud that airport staffers had been able to help the plane make several flights.

“That was a feather in our cap,” Gaerte said.

Gaerte also offered an update on the Speedway Sand and Gravel operation at 6167 C.R. 11-A, about a mile west of the airport’s runway. The airport board currently is involved with litigation with the company. Speedway was granted a special exception from the DeKalb County Board of Zoning Appeals for a height variance and an artificial lake of 10 or more acres. The airport board filed for judicial review of the BZA decision over safety concerns.

The board also filed for a court injunction Nov. 16 after construction at the site began and a pond began to form. Gaerte presented aerial photos she took of the site. She said the first activity she noticed there was Aug. 21. Photos taken last week showed that a body of water on the site had grown in size since August.

The DeKalb BZA, along with Speedway and site landowners Custer Farms and Jeffrey Bauman, filed a motion to dismiss the airport’s request for judicial review, but DeKalb Superior Court I Judge Kevin Wallace denied the motion earlier this month.

A motion to dismiss the request for a court injunction also is on the table, airport attorney Don Tribbett said Friday. He said he was working on securing a date for a hearing on that motion, but it had not yet been set. A hearing could take place in February, but Tribbett said he would try to have it sooner.

Also Friday, the board approved on final reading an ordinance setting 2016 salary ranges for airport employees: for the airport manager, $55,482-$63,561; for the assistant airport manager, $31,852-$37,559.; for airport maintenance workers, $26,929-$31,781; and for part-time employees, $8-$18 per hour.


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