The Clarksdale-Coahoma County Airport Board will be looking for a new representative from the city after a board member submitted his resignation Monday.
Hugh Balthrop, the creative director for Sweet Magnolia Gelato Co. in Clarksdale, tendered his resignation from the airport board Monday afternoon, just hours prior to the February meeting of the board. Balthrop said his decision was prompted by business concerns involving moving his company to another location within the city.
Board chairman David Huggins thanked Balthrop for his service and said, “We’ll miss having you on the board.”
Huggins said Balthrop’s seat will be vacant until a new member is appointed by a Clarksdale city commissioner.
Also, the board will soon be taking bids for the position of lead engineering company for Fletcher Field. Huggins said the Federal Aviation Administration recommends that airports advertise for bids “every five years or so.”
“We haven’t done it in awhile and it’s just time to do it,” Huggins said.
Neel-Schaffer is the current firm handling engineering for the local airport.
Advertising for bids will begin this month and bids received will be opened March 11 at 2 p.m. at the Coahoma County Courthouse in Clarksdale.
Due to inclement weather, Huggins noted that no work has been done at the field this year.
“This is delaying the completion of our new taxiway and the enlargement of our parking areas for planes,” he said.
“We’ve got one issue that must be taken care of as soon as possible,” Huggins said, “and that is the hole in the ground on the south end of the field. I’m hoping to get that fixed as soon as next week.”
Another concern is the beacon on the south end of the field, which is thought to be the original beacon put into service when Fletcher Field first opened in 1942.
“The beacon is totally out now,” Huggins informed board members. “We‘ve got to find somebody with proper insurance to climb up the beacon and determine the cause of the outage and repair it. But first, we have to determine who our engineering firm is going to be.”
Inclement weather has also interfered with Nathan Young’s efforts to give flying lessons to his students at Fletcher Field during the past month. Young, from Helena, was hired as a flight instructor last month, but bad weather has hampered his operations.
Bookkeeper Rena Drew was ill and couldn’t make Monday’s meeting, so no financial report was available to board members. Therefore, the board approved minutes of the January meeting and will consider the financials at its next meeting on March 11.