The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) announced on May 16 that state aeronautics grants totaling $316,650 have been approved for seven Tennessee airports. Among these was our own Macon County Airport in Lafayette.
The grant is for $19,000 and will be matched by $1,000 of city money. Crystal Cherry, who manages the FBO (Fixed Base Operation) at the airport with her husband Jerry, said that the money will be used to purchase security cameras for the hangars at the airport.
City Mayor Richard Driver said that Cherry came to him with concerns about security at the airport earlier this year. Ten new T-hangars had been installed in 2011, and she believed there had been some attempted break ins.
“[These hangars are] where people store their planes with us,” said Cherry. “We have a lot of renters from Macon County and Lafayette. And it’s like a little storage unit basically, and it holds an airplane and their supplies. So the security is an added bonus for the tenants.”
Driver said he contacted Steve Upshaw with TDOT to find out what grants might be available, and together, they worked out the application.
They received the grant award letter two weeks ago. This $20,000 will purchase four security cameras, to be placed strategically among the ten hangars, Driver said. They will be monitored by the Lafayette Police Department.
This grant comes just a few months after Lafayette received two other major grants designed to improve the quality of our airport and encourage business traffic into the area.
In early March, Lafayette was awarded two grants totaling $235,000. A $150,000 grant covers the installation of an AWOS (Automated Weather Observation System) and an $85,000 grant covers the creation of an Airport Layout Plan.
The AWOS is a safety measure that also encourages easy traffic into the area. “Let’s suppose you’re in Wisconsin,” said Mayor Driver. “Then suppose you have a factory here. So today you say ‘I want to go to Lafayette and check on my factory.’ They can use the AWOS to determine exactly what the weather conditions are here…
“Then suppose you are flying from Wisconsin to Florida, and you need to take a break. Just like in a car—you to take a break and fuel up. With AWOS, if they’re flying near an airport, they can check with the AWOS and see what our weather conditions are, so they can decide whether they want to land here or not.”
The Airport Layout Plan is a detailed set of plans outlining future developments/expansions for an airport.