County commissioners this week approved a projected $85,000 contract for taxi way lighting at the Orange County Airport.

The contract is with F and W Electrical, to be funded by the airport’s capital budget, and covers a newly-built runway portion and improvements to the old portion of the lighted taxi way. 

An initial payment of $5,000 was approved for the Justice and Huang engineering firm. 

Other payments will be made on completion of the project, said Precinct 3 Commissioner John Dubose.

Doug Manning, assistant county attorney who advises the court, and a private pilot; said the improvements would make the runway safer.

“One of the problems we’ve had, at least in the last nine years I’ve been flying, is that with the existing lights the grass got almost all the way up to them and the systems were getting hit by mold,” he said. 

“With the new [devices], they’re poured into concrete casings and that keeps the grass away, which is going to minimize the chance of getting damaged by mold. They’re not as expensive to replace. It won’t be a huge savings, but it’s going to be a savings and a convenience factor in the future with these new designs.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Owen Burton wondered if, because of the safety factor, the county could apply for grant funds from the state health commission regarding the new mosquito control aircraft.

“Most of the grant monies we’re going to get, we got when we bought the plane,” Dubose said. 

Manning added that the plane can’t fly at night, therefore will not use the lights. 

In other business Monday:
• Franklin Walters with county emergency management reported that about 67 percent of the estimated hurricane debris has been picked up, or some 501,035 yards with 248,965 yards remaining.
• Commissioners approved a payment of $3.7 million to Ashbritt Environmental for contractual debris services.