PARIS -Agreeing that the Oxford County Regional Airport needs fresh ideas, Oxford County commissioners approved efforts of a local businessman to start an airport commission on Tuesday.

Mark Bancroft, pilot and president of Bancroft Contracting, suggested forming an airport panel to promote and oversee operations at the Oxford airport.

“I recognize as a local pilot and businessman that the Oxford County Regional Airport is an underutilized asset,” Bancroft said.

“The County Commission has toiled for many years to manage the airport while doing the rest of their jobs. I thought it might be more productive to establish an airport authority that would be accountable to county commissioners.”

He said he believed four improvements were necessary to revive the regional airport off Number Six Road. His first suggestion was to lengthen the runway so larger jets could use the facility. He said it was also necessary to promote general aviation, offer 24-hour fueling and have an electronic security system.

“My sense is that up to 15 more airplanes would base here if things were different,” Bancroft said.

“We need to provide more hangar space.”

Bancroft said the idea of forming an airport oversight board sprang from conversations with area pilots and business people. He said there is a feeling among selected businesses and economic development people that bolstering airport facilities will bolster economic development in the area.

Bancroft’s ideas received unanimous approval from all commissioners.

“That sounds fine to me,” said Commission Chairman Frederic Kennard. “I really would like to do something to reactivate the airport. Mark seems like a very energetic forward-thinking young man. I would like to see the airport really boom.”

Commissioners gave him no deadline, but did ask that he work to get other aviation people involved.

“That’s not our expertise,” Kennard said. “Please get some people together that are interested in the airport and let’s keep talking.”

The commissioners also learned Tuesday that the Maine Department of Transportation would not pay the $1,224 for airport snow removal for 2002-2003 as it promised, and it eliminated the program from future budgets.

Nancy D. Laney, airport grant administrator for MDOT, said in a letter that due to the enormous budget constraints the department had to cut funding for this and future years.

The board also decided to award the long distance telephone service to Telcom America, which was the lowest of three bidders for the service. The bid will save the county $3,637.

Administrative Assistant Carole Mahoney also was instructed to get bids for repairs to the front steps of the courthouse.

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