The Oxford County Regional Airport is starting to show signs of life.
The county commissioners received an update Thursday from airport supervisor Tony Carter on upgrades and infrastructure improvements planned at the airstrip located just off state Route 26 at 75 Number Six Road in Oxford.
“The airport has been neglected for a lot of years,” said Carter, who has been on the job for barely eight months.
At the time of Carter’s hiring last August, commissioners said they were eager to have someone overseeing the operation at the airport, which has been underutilized for years since Oxford Aviation was evicted from its building in 2014 for violating the conditions of its lease.
Mosher Aviation Services has operated an aircraft refurbishing business there since 2016 and has grown to approximately a dozen employees, Carter said.
Commissioners approved a three-year lease Thursday with Mosher for $3,250 per month for rent. Mosher will utilize the hangar for its fixed-base operation and will have tie-down space for eight airplanes. County Administrator Donald Durrah called it a fair agreement that took six months to compile.
The airport currently has tie-down space available for 20 planes.
The county has applied for a federal grant for $800,000 for upgrades to infrastructure, including additional hangars, lighting in the parking lot and apron, security cameras, additional terminal space and an upgrade to the fire alarm system.
Expansion would allow more space for tie-downs. The grant would also help replace outdated and aging infrastructure such as the heating system, doors and windows, and improve exterior and interior lighting. Solar panels are being considered for the roofs of some of the buildings.
Carter is also drawing up a strategic business plan for the facility. Extending the runway would allow for larger planes to utilize the airport with more passengers. Providing limo service to the Oxford Casino was one idea being considered.
To increase public awareness for the facility, Carter is planning a fly-in, tentatively scheduled for July 2, that should attract pilots and planes from around the region. Carter said such an event would give attention to aviation in the area and get some recognition for the airport.
“We need to do it,” said Commissioner Steve Merrill of Norway. Merril said the airport held a fly-in many years ago with great success. Merrill added that a similar fly-in held recently in another part of the state attracted 127 airplanes.
Officials hope that some of the pilots will provide visitors with short rides of the surrounding area.
The facility covers 70 acres and includes a 3,000-foot asphalt runway, an office building, a hangar and a fuel depot. Considered a general aviation airport, it serves single- and twin-engine aircraft and small jets.
In other business, the commissioners ratified memorandums of understanding with the unions representing the corrections bargaining unit and the dispatch and the dispatch supervisor units to pay each eligible employee a $500 one-time bonus to get the COVID-19 booster shot by June 1.
Commissioners accepted the resignation of Deputy Brandon Pelton, who is joining the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. The board also approved the hire of Jesse Campbell-Fitzgerald for the new position of computer support technician.
County attorney James Pross was named hearing officer to oversee a hearing on a petition filed by residents against the town of Stow for the poor upkeep of Kezar Lake Road. The hearing is scheduled for June 14. This is the second consecutive year that the residents of that road have filed a complaint with the county.