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Equipment missing from airport

A former member of the Airport Board has reported a Kubota tractor, which had typically been used to mow the grass around the runway, was missing from the facility and additionally upwards of 120 gallons of aviation fuel has been removed from the fuel pumping station.

A report on the missing equipment and fuel has been taken to the McCreary County Sheriffs Office and Judge Executive Doug Stephens has been notified and an investigation is underway.

The missing tractor was discovered last week after two former members of the board visited the facility to work on a plane stored there and to mow the grass around the runway.

The tractor, described as a large, orange Kubota Tractor, was typically kept in a secure hangar connected to the main airport office. The former board member also reported about 120 gallons of fuel seemed to have been taken from the fueling station located near the end of the runway.

Before the board was abolished the tractor was reportedly purchased by the Airport Board to mow the grass around the runway.

The fueling station was also implemented by the Board, but in an effort to save money, the Board voted earlier this year to end their relationship with the branded carrier of the fuel. After that move, the fuel would still be available to sell, but anyone wishing to purchase the aviation gas would require a credit card to access it. It is unclear if the missing fuel was indeed purchased, and the transaction was not easily noted.

Access to that facility was supposed to be limited to only personnel directly involved with the airport operations, or had an aircraft parked in one of the hangars, but it is not known if other unauthorized individuals had access as well.

Stephens said he and County Attorney Conley Chaney have met to discuss what the County can and needs to do now that it has taken over operations of the airfield.

He stated plans are underway to change the locks on the secure areas, and to change the pass code to the fenced in area to prevent unauthorized access. Those who have an aircraft housed in the facility will be allowed entry.

Judge Stephens said he is also looking to make arrangements for the County Road Department to mow the area around the landing strip on a regular basis. Federal Aviation Administration regulations state the grass around the runway must be mowed and maintained to prevent obstruction of runway markings and lights, and to also reduce risk of wildlife encroaching on the landing strip.

Since the Airport Board was dissolved last month, no county maintenance has been performed at the facility.

When the Fiscal Court abolished the Airport Board on August the County essentially took over operations of the facility and assumed control of the property and buildings on site.

The plan to repave the runway is still in the process of moving forward Judge Stephens said Tuesday, but concerns over the time and conditions needed to perform the work of year may mean it will be delayed until next spring.

According to airnav.com, a reference website used by pilots to identify airport conditions, the airstrip at the Pine Knot facility is listed as open, but cautions of widespread cracking and faded markings on the runway are listed.

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