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Hartselle expanding hangar construction

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — At least two more local pilots are willing to use their money to construct hangars at Rountree Field.

Following in the footsteps of Decatur businessman Roger Minor, pilots Andy Byars and Rusty Phillips proposed Monday night to help fund the construction of a 60-foot by 180-foot hangar.

"It's actually going to be three separate hangars in one building with firewalls between them," Mayor Dwight Tankersley said. "I think this is good for the city."

The proposal from Byars of Moulton and Phillips of Cullman comes almost two weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration denied Hartselle's $645,000 grant application to construct 16 hangars of various sizes.

"I like this idea," said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development. "These are going to look exactly like the hangars we proposed (on the FAA grant application)."

Johnson met almost a month ago with the pilots and some Airport Board members to discuss the project.

He said the FAA has told Hartselle the proposal will not affect future grant applications.

Airport Board Chairman Steve Kimbrell said the board supports the proposal.

Councilman Mark Mizell wanted to know what would happen if one pilot ran out of money during the construction stage.

"I'm not saying they will," he explained. "I just don't want the city to get stuck with any of the expense."

"I'm sure they are going to pre-buy the building, so if it's not (paid for) up front it will not get done," Kimbrell said.

Minor, who purchased a corporate jet in October, agreed to construct a hangar in exchange for a 30-year lease that will cost Minor $600 annually plus the cost of operating the facility.

The city will sign similar agreements with Byars and Phillips after the hangars are constructed.

Johnson said it will cost about $200,000 to construct the hangars. He said the pilots have agreed to be equally responsible for construction cost and maintenance.

"This is not going to cost the city anything," he said.

Kimbrell said Byars and Phillips have been on the municipal airport's waiting list for a hangar.

The council agreed to the deal and will ratify its decision Tuesday night.

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