Deciding it does not reflect well on the county when a businessperson flies into town, is issued a courtesy vehicle to drive and must climb in through the passenger-side door, the county’s Budget and Finance Committee voted to amend the airport budget to purchase a better courtesy vehicle to be used at Warren County Memorial Airport.
The airport presently has two courtesy vehicles acquired in 2001 from the Sheriff’s Department, a 1992 Chevrolet Caprice and a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria.
“Over the last few months, we have had a lot of maintenance issues with these vehicles,” said airport manager Richard Crawford. “It is costing the airport a good bit of money every year to keep these vehicles up. These vehicles were donated by the Sheriff’s Department. We appreciate the Sheriff’s Department doing that. But, the vehicles are now in poor condition, both maintenance wise and in looks, for lack of a better term.”
“Because of that, we looked at and spoke to several dealerships, Kidd Ford, the Chevrolet dealership and some used car dealers to see if we could find a good deal. At this time, we have found a 2004 Ford Freestar van with 139,000 miles on it. Mr. Kidd is willing to sell that for $4,064. It is a seven-passenger van, a V6. It is very clean, very nice and suits our needs very well. It has a lot of room. Both doors on the side open and close automatically. It has plenty of room for cargo or anything pilots bring in. This vehicle should get us another 10 plus years in the condition it is in now,” said Crawford.
Crawford continued, “Please understand that when these transient pilots come in from out of town, one of the first things they see in relation to Warren County is our vehicle, our courtesy car. The businessmen and women come in and go to the Industrial Development Board. These types of individuals or other types of individuals who are flying through come in and go to our local eateries. We want to be able to provide a good vehicle for them.”
County director of safety David Britton and insurance representative Bob Shupe reviewed the outdated release forms which were being used for the airport’s courtesy vehicles. It was decided a new release form should be generated before pilots, patrons and airport customers are allowed to drive the courtesy vehicles.
County Executive John Pelham said, “Right now, based on the current release we have, the use of the courtesy vehicles has been suspended. We’ve stopped using the courtesy vehicles unless we can get a release drawn up. The budget transfer, if approved, will occur when the release is complete.”
Crawford said the two vehicles are being stored in a T-hangar at the airport without use until further notice.
When asked how patrons are commuting to and from the airport at this time, Crawford said if advance notice is given, the airport makes arrangements for a rental car to be used by customers needing transportation. However, short notice is often the norm.
“We can call a taxi or one of my staff or myself will run them into town. It can be an inconvenience due to time constraints. All of the smaller airports offer courtesy vehicles. I believe the newer vehicle will be beneficial for us and we already have the funds in our budget. We are not requesting more money, just to move funds already appropriated,” said Crawford.
The airport plans to keep the Crown Victoria as a backup vehicle and move the Caprice to surplus to eventually be auctioned.
The motion to move the funds passed 4-0.
Commissioners present were Herschel Wells, Terry Bell, Carl Bouldin and Ken Martin.
Commissioner Michael Martin was absent.