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Jamestown Regional Airport has best month for passenger boardings since 1978

by Tom LaVenture

Posted on 8/20/2015

Jamestown Regional Airport had 872 commercial passenger boardings in July, making it the highest total in a month since 1978.

Jamestown Airport Manager Sam Seafeldt said with the 450 August boardings through Tuesday the total boardings for the year come to 5,226.

"We are projecting over 8,000 boardings this year," Seafeldt said at the Jamestown Regional Airport Authority meeting on Wednesday.

"The last time we reached that number (872 boardings) was in 1978," said Jim Boyd, Airport Authority chair. "That was when boardings were up to 10,000 per year when we had three to four (Boeing) 727s per day."

Boyd said the goal is to reach 10,000 passengers per year and with the step up in possible funding that comes with the increase, and then Jamestown Regional Airport should aim for 15,000 passengers per year, he said. Sources of airport grants and other funding come from the Federal Aviation Administration's Airport Improvement Program, the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission and others.

The Airport Authority received a new aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle on Wednesday. The $512,000 vehicle is 90 percent federally funded with the state of North Dakota and the Airport Authority pitching in around $25,000 each and the Federal Aviation Administration with another $23,000.

The sale includes a $43,000 trade-in value of the current aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle, Seafeldt said.

The acquisition was initiated by the federal government, which offered to pay 90 percent of costs, he said. The incentive was part of a push to ensure that all eight small commercial airports in North Dakota were upgraded, he said.

"This (current) truck was at the maximum for what we are capable of as far as commercial aircraft," Seafeldt said.

The aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicle will be operated by eight aircraft rescue firefighters. Two are full-time airport employees with other duties in operations and maintenance.

Ben Maulding is the aircraft rescue and firefighting manager and is also the chief of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department.

He said the new vehicle has three times the capacity and holds 1,500 gallons of water versus a 500-gallon tank in the current vehicle. The new vehicle pumps 1,800 gallons per minute with two turrets versus the 600 gallons per minute with one turret in the current truck.

The additional spray power means more effective suppression of fires in high winds, Seafeldt said.

The vehicle also has a forward-looking, infrared camera to see better through smoke and at night.

Aircraft rescue and firefighting personnel must be firefighters already and then receive an additional 40 hours of training, Maulding said. The new vehicle will not be put in service until the training begins.

"I believe that everyone in ARF has already operated one of these vehicles with their ARF training," Maulding said. "This is just a bigger version."

Linda Schauer of Schauer & Associates PC presented the authority audit report. The report found a deficiency with the financial statement preparation process and recommended that the Airport Authority designate an individual or firm to be responsible for the financial reports.

In other business, the Airport Authority:

heard an update from Steve Aldinger, project engineer, on the two major wetland reduction projects. The engineering portion of a federal grant application will be sent out this week and could take several years before it is sent back with recommendations and a final draft consideration, but he said exemption applications are possible for work in the interim.

approved a $3,741 bid for a new public-address system that will alert passengers with information and boarding information inside and outside the terminal. The system was the result of recommendations and complaints from people who were concerned about missing flights, Seafeldt said.

approved filing a quitclaim deed that transfers interest in discrepancy gaps to the Airport Authority after it was discovered that historical deeds showed gaps with land that included a former road to the airport.

approved an updated health insurance plan for Airport Authority employees.

approved an aggregate 4.5 percent budget increase for employee raises with airport manager discretion effective Oct. 1.

approved the performance appraisal of Seafeldt.

Sun reporter Tom LaVenture can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at tlaventure@jamestownsun.com