Walnut Ridge Airport update on security upgrades

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Five years ago, the Walnut Ridge Golf Course was forced to close so the neighboring airport could receive a certification, which would allow charter planes and commercial passenger jets to land in Lawrence County. Many past members of the country club are upset that their golf course is gone, and no upgrades have been made.

Former President of the Board of Directors for the Golf Course, Allen Smith said ten years ago the Airport Commission and the City of Walnut Ridge started plans to upgrade the airport without harm to the golf course. However, according to Smith, that plan didn't pan out.

"That plan was approved, $6,000,000 was given and then for some reason or another they turned their backs on the community," said Smith. "If they would go back to 2004 from Delta Engineers report and follow that, we would have a thriving airport and golf course."

Smith said there was also a letter from the FAA that stated that the golf course wasn't the only issue.

"It also said the crops were in violation," said Allen. "The golf course is gone but the crops are still there."

There's been new management for the airport since this all started, but Smith said he feels they have already been under scrutiny.

"They're being told that we're nothing but a bunch of disgruntled golfers and we don't know what we're talking about," said Allen.

The frustration also comes from thousands of dollars that was lost over nothing.

"They used our own tax dollars to get rid of us," said Allen. "I think it was about $100,000 of our own tax dollars going against us, and we were also spending our own money trying to fight it."

Smith said if they have no future plans to upgrade the airport, they should consider bringing back their golf course.

"If they would go back to the 2004 plan, a golf course could be in that place within two or three months," said Allen.

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