Sat, Feb

Airport commission elects first chairman

Cottonwood News

At the first meeting of the newly formed Cottonwood Airport Commission on July 2, the first order of business was to name a chairman and a vice chairman.

The commission’s first chairman is Al Gradijan, who will serve a three-year term, and the group selected Larry Minch as vice chairman.

Also serving three-year terms are Jim Money and Allyson Waak. Serving two-year terms on the commission are Minch, Billy Tinnin and Margaret Austell. Finishing off the seven-member commission will be Don Thompson for a one-year term.

Many of the commissioners are pilots and have an airplane based at the airport on W. Mingus Avenue.

The commission also discussed what items to place on the agenda for the next meeting Monday, Aug. 6. The commission meets the first Monday of the month in the Cottonwood City Council Chambers, 826 N. Main Street, in Old Town Cottonwood.

“We got the first part done and now we’re moving on,” Gradijan said.
Forming the commission is the culmination of several months of talks between the city, the City Council and the airport users. The council approved the commission in April and later decided the make-up of the group should be five people with aviation-related backgrounds and two residents at large.

The Cottonwood Airport Commission meetings, like other commissions and boards as well as the City Council, are open to the public.

Considering the agenda, Gradijan said the commissioners want to discuss a transit parking ramp, some clean-up work around the airport, continue discussions on creating an airport operations and procedures manual and about the possibility of how to handle fuel.

Two of the items are of particular importance: the fuel and the manual.
“The manual will be the rules that we’ll require to operate. We’re looking at other airports right now to see what works and what doesn’t for us. We’re starting with a white piece of paper,” Gradijan said.

He also said the group does not want to over-regulate the airport. They want to find a balance to provide safety yet still allow people to fully enjoy the airport. It also will be a fluid document, allowing for change when necessary, he said.

On the fuel, the city council recently approved the purchase of nearly 4,000 gallons of aviation fuel for the airport from Starr Aviation Marketing in the amount of $13,384.17.

“This will allow us to be more competitive for sales at the airport. We called airports for 70 miles around and decided on around $4.4 per gallon. The price is in the average range. It seems pretty reasonable,” Tim Costello, airport manager, said.

Some of the background for the purchase of the fuel included a drop off of fuel sales at the airport due to availability and price. By buying in larger bulk, the city was able to leverage price to bring them in line with other area airports, he said.

The move also is in anticipation of the city installing a fuel card lock system at the fueling tank. A pilot could taxi to the fueling area and put fuel directly into their own plane. Currently all fueling is done by the fixed base operator, Aerobear Aviation.

“It’s going to be like a self-serve nozzle, and to pay it’d be like swiping a credit or debit card. We’ll see how it works,” Costello said.

The city put $25,000 in the fiscal year 2007-08 tentative budget for the system.

“Don’t know yet when it might get installed. First we need to get the budget approved and then go out to bid,” he said.

Dick Lucas, a member of the Airport User’s Association, said he is glad to see the prospect of the card system.

“It catches us up with the rest of the aviation world. People will be more likely to fuel up here instead of going elsewhere. People like smaller airports,” Lucas said.

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