Airport receive $380,000 federal grant

By Jared Tucker: PNT Staff Writer

The Portales Municipal Airport will be getting lighting renovations thanks to a federal grant that has flown into town.

The $380,000 FAA grant will pay to replace and repair runway lighting and signs, according to Mike Parkey, an employee at the Portales Municipal Airport. Parkey said the lighting equipment that is currently in use is out-dated, and produces excessive energy costs.

“The lighting, the vaults which turn everything on, they’re obsolete,” said Parkey, adding that even the electric cables that power the old lights were found to be losing electricity in large amounts when they were tested two years ago. Parkey said the new lights will not pull as much electricity as the current ones.

“Right now were just throwing away electricity,” said Parkey, noting that he did not have an exact amount of how much money the new equipment will save in the airport’s energy costs.

Parkey said part of the money will also be used to build a new beacon tower to replace the current one, which is currently not up to standard.

The grant comes at a time when small-airplane traffic is down. According to Parkey, small plane and cropdusting traffic has dropped significantly in the past year, but jet traffic has increased recently.

“We have almost doubled (in sales) of jet fuel, but our low lead fuel has dropped by about half. Our tenants are just not flying,” Parkey said.

Parkey said bidding on the $400,000 project will begin in about a month. As soon as the city council approves the bid, construction will begin and last between six and eight months.