Court views airport plans

Ector County commissioners on Tuesday will hear recommendations from advisory board members at Odessa Airport-Schleymeyer Field on accepting or rejecting a $15-million state grant to lengthen a runway.

The airport board is also scheduled to report on needed repairs and other issues during the 10 a.m. court meeting in the administration building at 1010 E. Eighth St.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Greg Simmons said Monday that the runway-lengthening project might entail more matching money than the county would like and that the pilots of small airplanes at the airport are dubious of expanding it for much bigger planes.

Precinct 3 Commissioner Don Stringer, the court’s representative to the airport board, said recently that he was somewhat dubious of the plan while Precinct 1 Commissioner Mike Gardner said he was opposed to it.

“Along with the $15 million would come $500,000 a year from the Federal Aviation Administration that we would have to match,” said Gardner, who represents the airport area north of town on the east side of the Andrews Highway. “Then when that runway wore out, we’d have to build another one.

“It was never meant to be a big commercial airport.”

The southeast-to-northwest-running Runway No. 1129 would be extended from 6,200 feet to over 7,000 feet, primarily to accommodate aircraft to surveil the Texas-Mexico border by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which is already based at Schleymeyer.

The airport’s other runways are the 5,003-foot No. 1634 and the 5,703-foot No. 0220.
In other business, the commissioners will consider finalizing property tax abatements for a $6.5-billion to $7-billion plant that will convert natural gas into gasoline at Penwell, 15 miles west-southwest of Odessa off I-20.

The Nacero Corp. of Houston is expected to start construction on the plant late this year or early next year.

The court will also:

>> Hear County Agent Steve Paz’s presentation of Alexis “Lexi” Ruch, a recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, as the Extension Service’s new agent for agriculture and natural resources.

>> Consider naming Dr. Babatunde Jinadu a civil surgeon at the Ector County Health Department, where he would be examine legal immigrants seeking permanent residency or certain types of visas. Jinadu, the county’s health authority, said before the proposal was tabled at the commissioners’ last regular meeting that immigrants now must consult private physicians for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services-mandated exams and that the county would receive the fees.

>> Accept a donation from ECISD police to the sheriff’s office for use at the courthouse of a baggage, parcel and person-screening system made by the Rapiscan Co. of Torrance, Calif.

>> Review bids and specifications for drainage and paving improvements on 67th Street.

>> Consider specifications for milling and overlay work on Moss Avenue.

>> Review specifications for food services at the senior centers and the adult and juvenile detention centers.

>> Consider enacting cybersecurity measures related to the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and paying $16,000 in matching money.

>> Review applying for funding to buy aerial surveillance drones to help the environmental services department curb illegal trash dumping.

>> Hear Sheriff Mike Griffis’ request to raise pay for a behavioral health screener from step one to step four on the county’s pay scale, or from $21.55 to $24.24 per hour.