By Jacqueline Brown

Killeen Daily Herald

GATESVILLE The Coryell County Commissioners Court granted complete ownership of the Gatesville City/County Airport to the city of Gatesville Monday, pending approval by the Gatesville City Council.

"It should have belonged to the city to begin with," said Commissioner Jack Wall. "It's more or less a city airport than a county airport."

He said the county partnered with Gatesville to help the city acquire grant money from the Texas Department of Transportation, much like the county partners with other communities for transportation projects, but the entities discovered it was difficult to share management of the airport.

"It's so hard to do something when there's two different entities involved," explained County Auditor Ben Roberts. He said the obstacles became more apparent when the city and county entered into an agreement for the airport expansion and improvement project in 1998.

The project was intended to expand the airport runway to reach 4,000 feet, but unexpected difficulties forced the group to scale back to stay within the original budget. The current project includes widening the existing 3,400-foot runway and adding a lighting system and beacon.

"The history of that thing is so convoluted I can't really tell you all the ins and outs of it," Roberts said.

He said that in 1998 the county's estimated contribution was in the $60,000 range, but the project took so long the county ended up paying about $96,000. Pending the council's approval, the city of Gatesville will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep when the project is complete.

"It's not a profit-making thing, it's something that the community wants," Roberts said. "It wouldn't be supported by the government if it made a lot of money."

The Commissioners Court also received an update on transportation projects from area TxDOT engineer Richard Brown.

Brown said TxDOT is scheduled to start $30.9 million worth of projects in Coryell County by the end of 2007, depending on funding and availability of resources.

The projects include widening Farm-to-Market 1113 in Copperas Cove and FM 1996 near Oglesby, but Brown said the proposed Tank Destroyer project has been pushed back until at least 2008. He said TxDOT is taking time to address concerns that the project would interfere with the Brigade Service Area on Fort Hood.

Contact Jacqueline Brown at

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