Pocahontas airport reopens to public after black mold issues

Pocahontas airport reopens to public after black mold issues

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - The Pocahontas Municipal Airport is reopened to the public after being closed since August of 2019.

“It’s great to be open,” said Danny Ellis, chairman of the Pocahontas Airport Commission. “[It’s great] finally being in the terminal and being able to welcome our guests that are coming in.”

The airport was shut down in 2019 after the discovery of black mold, a problem Ellis said stemmed from multiple floods.

“We had to immediately start applying for state grants and all the help that we could get,” Ellis said. “It actually started in 2011, the water first got in here from the flood - when the levee broke during that flood.”

Following the 2017 flood, the building was renovated, but the black mold returned.

In August 2019, work began to replace the building with a new terminal and a new hangar designed to prevent flooding from affecting the building again.

“We had to come out here and build this thing two-foot up so if the levy breaks, it won’t be in here,” Ellis said.

For Ellis and Airport Manager Randy Gilless, it was a long year of work.

“We went from a 1,500-square foot facility to a 24-by-24 square foot facility,” Gilless said. “I had just basically a desk and a phone and a computer.”

Now, Ellis and Gilless have moved in and the terminal is open to the public.

“This is not just a facility for pilots,” Gilless said. “This is a facility for the entire public, the entire population of Pocahontas and Randolph County.”

The terminal includes a conference room, a lounge, and a ‘sleep’ room with 24-hour access for pilots.

Both the terminal and the hangar are finished and open, but the airport commission is still working to finish some minor projects, including asphalt work.

The commission hopes to host an open house to the public soon.

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