Plane ride

Pilot Denny Caruso gets ready for take off with passenger Bill Birt of Johnsonburg at the Aviation Festival in 2019.

ST. MARYS — The recommendation for a new authority member and the runway lighting project were highlighted topics at Monday’s St. Marys Airport Authority meeting.

GAI Consultants of DuBois has provided 90 percent of the design plans for the airport’s new runway lighting project, according to Manager Joe Kerchinski.

The project, scheduled to occur next year, will include medium-intensity, LED runway lights, which are activated when planes are coming in, as well as replacing the existing beacon. Bids for the project will be put out in the spring, Kerchinski said. These lights are substantially lower in cost than the current lights.

CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act funding will cover 100 percent of the lighting costs, he said. SMMA received $20,000. The funds can be used toward any operating costs, but no capital improvement.

The airport is also applying for COVID-19 funding from the county, to replace funds it has lost from not hosting events like the drag races, Kerchinski said. The application must be submitted by Aug. 31.

Due to Tom Kerchinski leaving his authority position, there has been a vacancy. The SMMA received three letters of interest from Lance Mohney, Tom Laid and Ray Ehrensberger. Both Mohney and Ehrensberger were recommended and seconded, but Ehrensberger ended up with the final vote.

Treasurer Ned Jacob said he would be emailing the recommendation to St. Marys City Council prior to its 7 p.m. Monday meeting.

The SMMA will hold its Aviation Festival, a “scaled-down” version, this Saturday, beginning with a pancake breakfast fundraiser at 7:30 a.m. Plane rides, hosted by pilot Denny Caruso and the Elk County Flyers group, will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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