Just a couple of days after another snowstorm blew through, the runway at Hannibal Regional Airport is open again.
Two major snows in less than a week made it challenging to keep the airport open, according to Robin Carroll, Hannibal Regional Airport’s fixed base operator.
“We closed it late Thursday (Feb. 21). It stayed closed until Monday after it was plowed. Then it was closed again on Tuesday night,” she said, noting it reopened again Wednesday afternoon.
The weather-related closings were for the most part taken in stride by pilots, according to Carroll.
“I would say it was a little inconvenient for some people, but I do believe everyone understood and just made other arrangements,” she said.
While a city truck equipped with a plow is kept at the airport, it took the snow-moving muscle of the Street Department to get the airport operational after each snow.
“The (airport’s) little truck was not going to move the 10 inches of snow,” said Carroll.
Initially, city personnel went to the airport on Sunday to clear snow left in the wake of the Feb. 21 storm that officially deposited 9.75 inches of snow.
“They did not clear the entire airport on Sunday; just enough for FAA guidelines to permit a plane to access the runway and take-off,” said City Manager Jeff LaGarce. “Monday was a full clearing of all areas.”
There was interest from one aviator to have the airport opened on Sunday. Weighing various factors, LaGarce initially said the work would have to wait Monday.
“We were not willing to spend overtime for this, as we’ve consumed considerable overtime, and I was concerned about the employee exhaust factor,” he said.
The city manager explained that there are times when “we may need to defer a service to a time more practical” to help lessen costs. Concerning the airport, LaGarce was willing to wait until the following business day, in this case Monday, to have the plowing done.
“We anticipate few flyers in this type of weather, and clearing the streets is first priority,” said LaGarce.
Circumstances changed when the aviator wishing to fly out of the airport expressed a willingness to pay the overtime expenses that would be incurred if the work was done Sunday.
“With cost no longer being a factor, I checked with the Street Department to ascertain whether exhaustion was a factor. The street superintendent assured me some employees had recovered enough and would be willing to do the work,” said LaGarce, who then authorized the three hours of work it took to clear the runway on Sunday.
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