Airport still battling repairs from April’s tornado

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The Colleton County Airport Commission met virtually Nov. 12 for an update on tornado damage repairs from the April storm.

John T. Stieglitz, director of Colleton County’s Capital Projects and Purchasing Department, reported that the airport repairs were moving ahead but were delayed due to extensive rain.

Reconstruction of the World War II hangar was proceeding with sheet metal replaced and doors rehung. The inside offices have been gutted and are drying. Contractors are tearing down only what can be replaced in a day until the rain lets up.

Repairs will begin soon on the terminal itself, repairing siding, shingles, paint and parking lot lights that were destroyed by the tornado.

Mitchell Construction originally built the terminal, so the company was contacted for repairs since they had prior knowledge of the building. The estimate for repairs is $25,656.

According to Bert Duffie, airport attorney, the Insurance Reserve Fund stated that the terminal parking lot lights were not part of the insurance plan, but IRF has since reconsidered and has agreed to refund monies for those repairs.

Roger Medlin, operations manager for the airport, reported that October fuel sales set a record with 22,000 gallons sold, and November fuel sales were also off to a strong start. He also mentioned that requests for hangars come in daily, so more are definitely needed.

The damaged runway lights and taxiway lights will be repaired within the next two weeks, according to Tommy Rowe, airport manager.

He also stated that the airport drainage project is finished and a walk-through discovered nothing major to report. Every safety check has been reported as satisfactory throughout the airport.

While Covid caused deficits in many areas of the airport budget, the commission and staff are working hard to continue repairs and maintenance while trying to recoup lost revenue since March.

The combined Covid and tornado disasters greatly impacted the airport budget causing a deficit in assets.

Annually, almost 14,000 visitors come into the Lowcountry Regional Airport, supporting annual tax revenues of $1.2 million with an influx to the annual economy of $26.4 million.

Plans for the Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan are:

• taxiway connector reconfiguration and construction

•hangar development in east terminal area

• main apron expansion

• runway end 5 approach land acquisition (6 parcels)

• runway end 23 approach land acquisition (25 acres)

• partial perimeter fencing

• land acquisition for runway end 35 approach and Aviation Way relocation

• hangar development to extend Aviation Way

• Aviation Way entrance reconfiguration

The estimated cost will be $4,460,000 with $2,214,000 funded federally, $120,500 given by the state and a local share of $2,120,500.

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