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Airport considers pair of leases

| Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Joseph A. Hardy-Connellsville Airport officials are considering a pair of rental leases that will earn $1,250 a month, along with $10,000 worth of repairs to a 20-year-old beacon tower.

Washington Security Group, a Washington, D.C.-based defense contractor, will rent office space at the terminal building for $1,000 per month for an initial one-year term.

The Fayette County Airport Authority approved the lease agreement Tuesday, pending review by Airport Manager Sam Cortis and solicitor Mark Rowan.

"This is a lot simpler than renting a hangar," Rowan said. "There are a lot less things that can go wrong."

A second lease is under consideration for space atop a 100-foot tower on Chestnut Ridge.

Broadcasting Communication Inc. offered to repair the beacon tower and pay $250 per month to use it as a base for a 25,000-watt FM transmitter.

The tower was installed along with three others in the 1980s to mark the crest of the ridge. They were erected with a Federal Aviation Administration grant.

"All those towers are for us are huge poles with red lights on top," Cortis said.

The lease agreement is pending a review of FAA and state Bureau of Aviation regulations.

Broadcasting Communication Inc. will use the transmitter to increase the power of 103.1 FM in Waynesburg. The tower will strengthen the station's signal in the Fay-West area and parts of Allegheny County.

The company will initially invest close to $10,000 to paint the tower, replace the beacon light, repair fencing and erect a maintenance shed.

"We'll do whatever is necessary," said Bob Stevens, of Broadcasting Communication Inc.

Stevens said the cost to erect such a tower is about $40,000 and would require three months to gain approval from local, state and federal agencies.

Both sides talked about a long-term lease with periodic renewal options.

Once the tower is operating, Stevens said the broadcasting operation will move from its site near Waynesburg to Fayette County.

Money from both leases will go toward operating expenses, Cortis said.

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