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Albany Aviation Commission wants drywall cracks at new terminal repaired

An engineer’s report says cracks at Southwest Georgia Regional Airport are cosmetic, not structural problems

From left, Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission Chairman Dr. Bill Mayher and City Manager James Taylor present a plaque of appreciation to long-time airport employee Willie Wright, who announced he will retire on June 6. The award was presented at the Aviation Commission’s Monday meeting at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. (Special photo)

From left, Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission Chairman Dr. Bill Mayher and City Manager James Taylor present a plaque of appreciation to long-time airport employee Willie Wright, who announced he will retire on June 6. The award was presented at the Aviation Commission’s Monday meeting at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport. (Special photo)

ALBANY — Although an engineer’s findings confirmed an earlier report that hairline cracks in drywall installed at the Southwest Georgia Regional Airport’s new $10 million terminal posed no structural threat, the Albany-Dougherty Aviation Commission voted Monday evening to inform the terminal contractor that the board expects the three most noticeable cracks to be repaired.

Airport Director Yvette Aehle discussed the engineer’s report, demanded by board member Sanford Hillsman at the commission’s April meeting, recommending that only the “readily visible” cracks be repaired.

“The engineer’s conclusion is that gradients in temperature, humidity and other factors could cause these hairline cracks,” Aehle said. “His conclusion also states that the cracks are cosmetic, not structural.”

After extended discussion, the board voted to notify Walbridge Construction that it expects the three more visible cracks to be repaired. Since the terminal is under warranty through Aug. 8, there would be no charge to the city for the repair work. Commission member Bob Langstaff recommended that Aehle go ahead and inform Walbridge officials that the commission expects the repairs to be made, well in advance of the end of the yearlong warranty.

Also at Monday’s board meeting, the Aviation Commission honored airport service worker Willie Wright for 15 years of service. Wright has announced he will retire on June 6.

“If you ever need to find Mr. Willie, he’s always out mowing the airport’s 900-plus acres most of the summer,” Aehle said. “I don’t know how we’ll replace him. I wish we had 17 Willies.”

City Manager James Taylor presented Wright a plaque recognizing his years of service.

“I’m sad to see him leave the city of Albany, he’s such a hard-working guy,” Taylor said. “But he will remain an asset to this community. That’s the kind of person he is.”

An emotional Wright said, “I just enjoyed it.”

Aehle also told the board that for the first time in the airport’s history, it had received a “perfect 5” service rating based on matrices compiled by carrier Delta.

“Our numbers are 10 times better than they were when our passengers were coming in to the old terminal,” the airport director said. “This has never happened here before.”

Aehle also said during a financial briefing that April had been “a banner month” for the airport.