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DuBois Regional Airport expected to receive $1 million
Saturday, February 23, 2013
By Dianne Byers Staff Writer
REYNOLDSVILLE - More than $1 million in funding is coming to the DuBois Regional Airport. Members of the Clearfield and Jefferson Counties Regional Airport Authority heard details of the grant at yesterday's meeting
Earlier this week, the airport was targeted to receive $1.5 million from the state's capital budget through its transportation assistance program managed by the state Department of Transportation's Bureau of Aviation. Plans are to use the monies to continue expansion of the authority's air commerce park.
The authority still has approximately 15 acres for sale in the air commerce park and the state funds are currently designated to develop the site when it is purchased. In the past two years, Cactus Wellhead headquartered at Houston, and Orion Drilling Co., based at Corpus Christie, Texas, purchased parcels in the air commerce park. The authority used funds from the PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation to pay a share of the costs to build access roads, prepare the property for construction and get utilities to the sites. Both Cactus Wellhead and Orion provide equipment and services used in the Marcellus and Utica shale layers natural gas extraction process.
Robert Shaffer, airport manager, told the authority the transportation assistance program funds are an investment for the state - dollars it gets a return on when new jobs are created and taxes paid. "We now can attract additional industries here. We are ideally located for service industries," Shaffer said.
The monies do not have to be used for air commerce park improvements as wording in the contract allows the grant to pay for other airport upgrades. Shaffer said, "the (contract's) language is the best the authority could hope for."
According to published information, DuBois Regional Airport is one of 10 regional airports across Pennsylvania to share $10 million in grants. The grants were approved by the state's Transportation Commission. Members of the 15-member commission include the secretary of transportation, 10 private citizens appointed by the governor as well as the majority and minority chairmen of the state Senate and House Transportation Committees.
The grants are distributed through the capital budget/transportation assistance program and leverage more than $11 million in local matching funds. Authorized by the General Assembly, the grants are administered by PennDOT's Bureau of Aviation.
The state's public-use airports are estimated to support more than 300,000 jobs, generate $9.2 billion in annual payroll and produce $23.6 billion in annual economic activity.
In other business, the authority:
• heard January's passengers numbers are down. DuBois Regional Airport had 375 travelers in January, down from 399 in December and 400 in January, 2012. Authority members said the airport would welcome additional passengers to help build the annual numbers and possibly increase state and federal subsidies.
• ratified action taken in January by the executive committee to purchase commercial property liability insurance from Traveler's Insurance at a cost of $26,091. The cost increased $5,885 from last year's price, Shaffer said this was attributed to damages to the airport's water tower caused by lightening strikes in 2007 and 2008 and general overall increases in insurance costs. Since that time the authority has taken steps to avert damage caused by lightening strikes by adding surge suppressors to all buildings on the property.
• heard Shaffer say the airport has received its wildlife hazard assessment and management plan ordered by the federal Aviation Administration in response to accidents in recent years involving birds and other wildlife. The plan cost nearly $100,000 to prepare and data collection for it took about a year.
Shaffer said the plan arrived this week and he has not yet had time to review it in depth. He said there are several recommendations and a timeline for completing them. "We don't have any significant issues inside the airport but there are some things on the outside we do need to address," he told the authority.
• heard after several mild winters, the airport's staff has been kept busy this winter removing snow and creating safe surfaces on the tarmac allowing planes to take-off and land without incident.
Shaffer said the airport has "been pretty much open and operational throughout the winter."
Loren Bishop, the authority's president, said the airport has been experiencing the same types of problems as many other industries in that cold weather and frozen precipitation compounds problems and makes maintenance and repairs more difficult.
The authority's next meeting is March 22 at 8:30 a.m. at the DuBois Regional Airport's conference room.
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