CROSSROADS REPORT By Kent Brunette 6.20.2012 Don’t forget. Bremond’s Polish Day is this Saturday, June 23. Crossroads Report will start appearing on a bi-weekly basis. Dennis Phillips (the new publisher/managing editor) and I will take turns writing columns every other week. These will appear on page 4. The corporate jet takes off from its Oklahoma base and heads south into the crisp early morning air. Its destination: Hearne. Not a stranger to the area, this is the third trip this year that this expensive plane has made to Robertson County’s only general aviation airport. As it silently appears on the central Texas horizon, an entourage of freshly washed vehicles arrives to transport the plane’s cargo of company executives to their local destination. After being on the ground for only an hour and a half, the passengers are whisked back onto the tarmac where they hop into the plane and head off into the wild blue yonder. Some ten years and a couple of city managers ago, the City of Hearne and its 4A sales tax board engaged the services of the Texas Engineering Service (TEEX) at Texas A&M to identify needed improvements at the Hearne Airport. Much like the checklists pilots use before taking flight, the city and 4A have been systematically accomplishing major airport improvements and checking them off of the TEEX-recommended list. The latest round of airport funding was triggered by a letter Hearne Mayor Ruben Gomez initiated to TxDOT Aviation several months ago complaining about the need for a perimeter fence. This letter put the state on notice that wild hogs and deer are creating on-going safety hazards at the Hearne Airport. Hearne Economic Development was recently notified that close to $1.3 million is being programmed into TxDOT Aviation’s capital improvements program for the Hearne airport. While airport improvements are costly, the projects below qualify for 90/10 grant funding which means that the city, through its 4A board, only has to cough-up a fraction of the total cost. That’s good since bulldozing the fence lines and installing the planned 21,300 linear foot perimeter game fence with four gates around the airport weighs in at $630,000. The rehabilitation of the taxiways and aprons will run an additional $367,000. Resurfacing the runway will cost another $297,000. This adds up to a total 4A contribution of roughly $130,000 to pay its share for the latest $1.3 million installment of an airport improvement project that has spanned almost ten years. These improvements come on the heels of a private developer building four, big, two-plane hangars at the Hearne Airport. The City of Hearne has already mailed in a check for the 25% local share of a 75/25 grant to install a new fuel farm. While Hearne’s 4A Board and Robertson County each contributed $30,000 towards this new facility, the state is picking-up the lion’s share of this quarter million dollar fueling system that will help attract area pilots to our area. In an attempt to better serve pilots and prepare for future airport growth, the City of Hearne and its 4A board have been taking advantage of all available airport funding opportunities in recent years. These federal and state airport programs are increasingly in jeopardy in today’s program- cutting environment. While the high dollar expenditures are necessary to maintain a safe airport, some of the less costly tasks are the most noticeable. Swing by and look at the bull-dozing, burning, and root- plowing work that has been done at the northern end of the runway. No longer hidden from view by scrub trees, saplings, and underbrush, the airport is now clearly visible from FM485. A night- time drive-by is down-right impressive. The Hearne Chamber of Commerce plans to throw a grand, multi-county celebration that commemorates the airport’s re-dedication after the fuel farm becomes operational. Crossroads Reports appear periodically in the Robertson County News and are archived at the Hearne chamber’s website. The views expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the City of Hearne, Hearne’s 4A and 4B Sales Tax Boards, Hearne Chamber of Commerce, or the Robertson County News.
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