Airport to let contractor decide soil’s fate


HUNTINGBURG — The future contractor of the Huntingburg Airport’s runway extension project will be told of potential dirt available from the Huntingburg Conservation Club’s property.

Dubois County Airport Authority members decided to let the contractor decide if it is interested in getting the soil, instead of the authority testing and purchasing the soil itself.

Conservation club representatives told the airport board Monday that the club has two potential sites from which dirt would be available. Bernie Main, president of the club, said that dirt is available from the club’s lake area as well as from the camping area, which is north of the lake.

“We would reconstruct that area, because it’s a little hilly for campers” he said. The available dirt in the lake bed, he said, would be under the top layer, which has sediment and isn’t usable for the project.

“It’s not just one site,” said Glenn Kays, the club’s vice president. “And we’re very willing to work with you.”

The airport is planning to extend its runway 500 feet in length and expand its width by 25 feet, a project that will cost about $6.5 million and utilize funding from the Federal Aviation Administration and Indiana Department of Transportation.

A longer runway allows planes to carry more weight. When a plane flies out of Huntingburg, it’s usually the fuel, not the passengers or luggage, that gets sacrificed for weight reasons. With less fuel, a plane might need to land more frequently to refuel, a possible burden when executives need to travel quickly. By extending the runway, the airport becomes more attractive to customers. About 200,000 cubic yards of dirt will need to be brought in from elsewhere for the expansion work, which is expected to start next year.

The conservation club is trying to get its lake and dam repaired. Heavy rains that hit the area in late April and early May 2017 exposed a problem with the dam’s drainage. Because there was too much rain for the dam to handle, the water washed away some of the bank around the dam and underneath County Road 100 West. For safety reasons, the lake and the section of County Road 100 West that includes the dam were closed indefinitely until repairs can be made.

The repairs must be up to state standards since the lake and dam are taller than 20 feet, and in previous talks, those costs were estimated to be as much as $500,000.

County officials had been delaying reopening the county road, to give the club time to raise money for the repairs and figure out how it will get the repairs done. But at their Sept. 4 meeting, the Dubois County Commissioners decided they will install a culvert and make repairs to reopen County Road 100 West after learning that the club had not raised $35,000 to pay engineering costs by the county’s Aug. 1 deadline. The dam’s existing spillway will be removed, the culvert will be installed and the road will open to traffic in the next two months. The commissioners can decide to remove the culvert if the club raises enough funds to make their repairs.

The club has no set timeline for the lake, as it is looking at all of its options in the matter. “We can rebuild that site or look at other options,” Main said.

But the club will have a lake, he guaranteed.

“We need our lake, that’s a big thing for us,” Main said. “We are planning to do something. And we would like to sell you the dirt that is available.”

The airport was considering testing the soil itself — which would cost about $14,000 — and considering storing dirt at the airport for its runway project. Project engineer Curtis Brown of Indianapolis firm Woolpert Inc. suggested letting the contractor handle that instead.

“It would be best, given the timeline and the uncertainties, to put that on the contractor and identify the conservation club as a potential area, for the contractor to reach out to the club and make those arrangements,” Brown said.

The airport board agreed.

At Monday’s meeting, the airport authority also:

• Heard that U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon rescheduled his visit to the airport for 2 p.m. Sept. 19. Airport Manager Travis McQueen invited board members to come meet the congressman and discuss any concerns pertaining to aviation and the airport.

• Learned that BK of DC LLC of Jasper has signed the new, three-year lease proposed by the airport. OFS Brands Holdings of Huntingburg, which uses a hangar jointly with BK of DC, signed the lease previously. The lease is for three years at a cost of $14,820 per year, with the option of a five-year renewal at $18,720 per year. BK of DC had sent a counter offer to the airport last month, but the board decided to stick with its proposal to the company. The previous 10-year lease officially ended in 2016.

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