Monday, September 29, 2008

City Talk - Improvements to Rolla National Airport underway

Maintaining and upgrading the infrastructure of our City’s facilities, roads, bridges and storm water/storm sewer systems continues to be a significant priority for City staff and the Rolla City Council. And I’m pleased to report that the improvements underway at Rolla National Airport (RNA), located 13 miles north of Rolla off U.S. Hwy. 63, will upgrade yet another important community asset.

The airport, which consists of two 5,500-foot-long by 100-foot-wide runways, a pilot’s lounge, two 10-unit T-hangers, a number of businesses and numerous aircraft, is used by pilots throughout the Midwest and country as a convenient stop-over or access point to the Rolla/Phelps County area. Maintaining the runways and ensuring that the airport is meeting the standards and requirements established by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is something that RNA Manager Wes Faulkner is always striving for.

Wes, who has managed the airport for the past 12 years, is currently working with Gaines Construction and Huff Construction to ensure the airport’s two runways are well lit, easy to navigate and well marked. Gaines Construction is finishing the installation and landscaping of new runway lights on runway 22 and 04 this week. This Monday, Sept. 29 Huff Construction also will be drilling and filling cracks (where grass and weeds are popping up), resealing, painting and marking runway 13 and 31. These upgrades will not only meet the FAA’s requirements for municipal airports, but they will also improve the quality of the airport services provided by Wes and his staff for pilots and professionals who fly in and out of the Rolla area thousands of times a year.

RNA continues to be an integral asset to the Rolla area, both from an economic development and commuter service perspective. Several businesses and institutions such as Kingsford Charcoal, Brewer Science, Mo-Sci Corporation, Wal-Mart, Missouri University of Science and Technology, and the State of Missouri use RNA on a regular basis. Baron Aviation Services, Inc. also is headquartered at RNA. According to Shawn Bancroft, Operations Supervisor at Baron, the privately owned company provides contractual services for FedEx Express Services. Baron operates a fleet of Cessna Caravans for FedEX. Wodohodsky Aviation, LLC – a flight instruction school also located at RNA, provides airplane rental and aerial photography as part of their services.

RNA is clearly a significant asset to our area in terms of aviation, transportation, economic development, homeland security and future industrial expansion. The eventual development of an industrial/business park at RNA also would encourage the growth of additional businesses and industry around the airport. During the past two weekends hundreds of students from Missouri S&T participated in the “Greek Week” games at RNA at the pavilion area where the legendary Ozark Extravaganza was hosted for many years. This event, like the recent Tour of Missouri Stage 4 Finish in Rolla, reflects the ‘town and gown’ relationship the City of Rolla continues to strengthen and foster with the administration, faculty and students at Missouri S&T.

In closing I would like to mention again that Rolla Channel 6, Rolla’s premiere education and government channel, will begin airing Rolla City Council meetings on a regular basis beginning Monday, Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. In addition to airing the City Council meetings live the first and third Monday of the month, RC6 also will re-air City Council meetings several times throughout the week. City Planning & Zoning (P&Z) meetings will begin airing on Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 5:30 p.m. with additional City meetings planned for the coming months.

Rolla Public Schools (RPS) board meetings and Rolla High School Friday night home football games also will air on RC6. The schedule for all programs will be posted on the RC6 program guide. So tune in. RC6 is a jointly funded education and government cable channel provided by the City of Rolla, Rolla Public Schools, and Fidelity Cablevision. The mission of RC6 is to enhance the City of Rolla’s and Rolla Public Schools’ public information and communication systems, involve the community in local government and Rolla Public School decision-making, and provide useful information to the public.

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