Airport upgrades still underway

Published 1:03 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Tucker-Guthrie Memorial Airport has undergone some improvements over the last few years, some necessary because of heavy damage sustained by the facility because of severe winter weather in 2015.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley advised the Harlan County Chamber of Commerce during a recent meeting on the improvements and upgrades made since severe weather caused the collapse of the airport’s hangar building and damaged other parts of the facility.

“We were criticized in an audit for insuring those facilities,” Mosley said. “Had we not had insurance on those facilities, we wouldn’t have an airport. During the winter storm of 2015, we saw our hangar building collapse as a result of heavy snow. If we had not had the insurance on that, we would not have what we now have up there.”

Email newsletter signup

Mosley said the insurance claim was approximately $1.2 million.

“We were able to build that back within that budget,” Mosley said. “I can’t wait until the Harlan County Airport Board schedules a ribbon cutting up there. It truly is nice, and it’s what we need from an airport perspective to accommodate the amount of planes that come in to the area.”

Mosley also said a runway extension project is in progress.

“You’ve got to have a bigger runway in order to land bigger aircraft,” Mosley said. “Larry (Calhoun, Harlan County Economic Development Director) and I have talked about this extensively. The airport expansion may be the single largest piece in our economic development process moving forward.”

Mosley explained the airport improvements are needed in order to allow business owners and corporate officials to fly directly into Harlan.

“We’ve got to land CEOs of companies here and show them our available properties,” Mosley said. “This runway extension, once that happens, will give us the ability to land much larger aircraft.”

Harlan has also seen the opening of two new playgrounds in the last few months, one at Cawood and another at Dayhoit.

“A park at Cawood had to be closed down because CSX Transportation took out the rail bridge that was in bad shape,” Mosley said. “My predecessor had poured a concrete sidewalk across the bridge without CSX’s permission.”

Mosley said CSX had torn the bridge down.

“We moved our park up on Cawood Hill,” Mosley said. “Now, the park is up there where the fire department used to be.”

Mosley explained a new fire department facility is planned to begin construction soon off U.S. 421.

“The site work’s been done, construction should start within the next month,” Mosley said.

Another park is in the works at Dayhoit.

“That was made possible by community members who stepped up and acquired land to get this park underway,” Mosley said. “There was some property there that had absentee land owners.”

Mosley pointed out community members had bake sales and other fundraising activities in order to acquire the land and equipment for the park in Dayhoit.

“It’s going to be a beautiful place,” Mosley said. “It’s a place that I look forward to getting into shape this spring.”