By Mark Waite
TONOPAH — County Commissioner Lorinda Wichman came unglued Tuesday when fellow Commissioner Donna Cox voted against an application for Federal Aviation Administration grants for the Beatty and Tonopah airports.
Wichman asked Cox to explain her nay vote. Cox said she had some questions about the grant applications and wanted to look into it further.
“Any time I have an opportunity to attract $1 million to the economy of Nye County for the cost of $58,000, you know what my vote will be. We’re keeping those poor people working,” Wichman said.
FAA grant applications are routinely approved by county commissioners; the FAA picks up 93.75 percent of the cost, Nye County has to pay 6.25 percent.
Atkins North America was awarded a contract to provide design and bidding services on the construction of a helipad, replacement of a segmented circle, replacement of runway Precision Approach Path Indicators PAPIs and replacing two manual gates with automatic gates at the Tonopah Airport. The FAA would provide a $623,438 grant for this project, Nye County would have to provide a $41,562 match.
Atkins was also awarded a contract to provide design and bidding services on the grading of a runway safety area and runway object free area at the Beatty Airport as well as construction of a drainage berm. The FAA grant would pay for $103,125 of that project, Nye County $6,875.
Cox had questions about Atkins North America. Nye County Public Works Director Dave Fanning said Atkins is an engineerimg firm that has done airport work for Nye County over the last several years. The firm also did engineering work on street improvements for the county, it was formerly known as PBS&J until about two years ago, he said.
“They have been a good, working partner with Nye County and the FAA for many, many years,” Fanning said.
Cox wondered if the county went out for bids. Fanning said the bidding process was followed on this job, the public works department ended up recommending Atkins North America.
The Tonopah Airport project is expected to go to bid in May or June, with construction beginning in August and completed by November.
The county states the helicopter landing area is located on the existing concrete apron which is 70 years old and in bad condition. The existing segmented circle is constructed of wood and is in poor condition. The existing PAPIs are inoperable and replacement parts are no longer available. Replacing the manual gates with electric automatic gates will allow pilots to use card readers.
The county application states grading of the runway safety area and object free area will enhance safety at the Beatty Airport. Excess material from the grading will be used to construct a drainage berm. This contract doesn’t cover construction at Beatty Airport which will be in two phases, a first phase is expected to cost $1.1 million in 2014 and a second phase will follow, at a projected cost of $1.14 million in 2015.