Leaders of the Lewiston-Nez Perce County Regional Airport are giving holiday travelers an early Christmas present and postponing the debut of paid parking at the facility until Jan. 1.

The airport is waiting for signs that will direct the public to kiosks that will accept credit card payments for parking.

The signs will also show the location of paid parking in a paved lot in front of the terminal and a free parking area in a gravel lot about a block away, near a Lewiston fire station, said interim airport Manager Clarence W. “Bill” McKown Jr., who spoke at a Wednesday evening meeting of the airport authority board.

The start date has been pushed back several times for a number of reasons, such as a delay in obtaining the kiosks where motorists will pay with credit cards.

“It’s a good grace period, but then we need to get after it,” said board member Jim Bennett.

The airport expects to get $100,000 in the coming fiscal year in new revenue from the fees. The money will help provide local matching money for the millions the airport receives from the Federal Aviation Administration for capital projects.

The FAA has been pushing the airport to begin charging because it expects airports to get the maximum return from their taxpayer-owned assets, said board Chairman Gary Peters.

Parking will be $5 per day per vehicle for the first 10 days. The rates will be discounted after the first 10 days.

In other business, the airport board delayed a decision about hiring an attorney so the position could be advertised.

Peters recommended selecting Thad O’Sullivan, of Spokane. But the board chose to wait after Debra Smith, a board member, raised objections. She noted that the board hadn’t publicized it was seeking legal counsel since it decided in September it was seeking a replacement for Danny Radakovich.

The Lewiston attorney had originally planned to fill the role temporarily, but has been giving the board legal advice for 15 months.

In other business, the board:

Heard an update from Peters about its search for a new manager, which the board hopes to hire by Jan. 15. A total of 15 people have applied for the job so far and the board expects 10 or 15 more candidates will submit resumes. “They’re looking through the smoke and they know what an opportunity this will be,” Peters said.

Listened to a report from McKown about plans for winter snow removal. The airport crew has been doing drills, following a new procedure that McKown has introduced to clear the airport’s two runways and adjacent taxiways in 45 minutes.

Williams may be contacted at ewilliam@lmtribune.com or (208) 848-2261.

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