Brantley airstrip upgrades postponed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 9, 2005

Upgrades and renovations to the Brantley Air Strip will have to wait, according to Mayor Bernie Sullivan and Town Administrator Larry Morgan.

The town had been trying to secure funds through the federal government to overhaul its airstrip and in affect create an airport recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration in its national registry.

The problem, though, lies with Brantley's proximity to other airports. The town is within a 30-minute drive time to airports in Luverne, Andalusia and Elba, which, according to Morgan, would make it very difficult for Brantley to acquire federal funding at this time.

"As of right now," Morgan told the town council during Monday night's monthly meeting, "there's no federal money available."

Morgan said the Brantley Air Strip has sat dormant for over 25 years. Created in the early 60s, the airstrip fell out of use in the following decade but there were hopes the town could receive federal funding this year with Helispec, Inc. coming to Brantley. Helispec, a complete helicopter repair and overhaul company, recently announced its intentions to build $2.8 million facility at the airstrip.

Morgan said the inability of the town to renovate the airstrip would not affect Helispec's operations. The company is currently located in the old Meredith Factory on Foster Street.

"This would have just been a bonus for the Town of Brantley," said Morgan of airstrip renovations.

Also, federal funding may be available for the project in the future, he said.

"This is something the council will probably look at again at a later day," he said.

In other business, the council authorized the town's rescue squad to apply for grants to replace two ambulances that service the Brantley area. The combined cost for two vehicles would be over $200,000. The grants would pay 50 percent of the cost and Councilman Steve Walker suggested that in the future thought be given to purchasing these vehicles at different periods of time.

"I'd like to space them out so that we're not hit with these costs all at once," he said.

The council appointed three members to the town's Public Building Authority, a committee created as a requirement for the town to receive a 40-year loan from the USDA. The money will be used to construct the town's new municipal complex. Those names will be released at a later date.

The council presented County Extension Coordinator Russty Parrish and 4-H County Agent Matthew Pippin with a check for $1,000 to help fund the county's 4-H program.

Additionally, the council approved an application by USA Travelers, purchasers of the Southland Convenience Store on Highway 331, to sell beer and wine inside the store.

The next meeting of the Brantley Town Council is on Monday, May 2.