Moore to seek airport funding

WILLIAMSTOWN – The manager of the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is planning to request monetary support from local communities in an effort to keep the air traffic control tower operating.

“I would love some support from the area cities,” said Terry Moore with the airport. “I have spoken to both Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell and Vienna Mayor Randy Rapp and plan to talk to their councils in the future.”

Moore said he would like to speak to officials with Williamstown, Belpre and North Hills in hopes of receiving support from the smaller communities.

A couple of years ago when Moore sent letters requesting funds from area communities, all but Parkersburg donated.

“North Hills sent money and even Belpre, who we didn’t even ask for money, gave as a show of support, which was and is greatly appreciated,” Moore said.

The funds donated to the airport by area communities will go toward keeping the local air traffic control tower in operation longer than the federal government will fund because of the federal funding cuts.

In February, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced the closure of 149 towers at rural airports throughout the country, including three in West Virginia.

Last month the FAA extended the towers funding, moving the closure date from May until June 15. This temporary stay gives the airports another month to figure out how to fund their towers until October when there is a chance both the House and Senate will pass a budget with funding for the towers.

These towers are listed for closure because of the FAA’s required $637 million budget cuts under sequestration, unless airports continued operations as a nonfederal contract tower.

“We can still have commercial and general aviation flights without the tower, but I would rather not do it,” Moore said.

Moore does not know how much money he will be asking for from the city councils and county commissions in Wood and Washington counties because he does not know how much it will cost to keep the tower open for three-and-a-half months.

“I have heard rumored amounts as high as $95,000 and as low as $60,000,” he said. “I don’t want to go to the councils and ask for money until I know how much I need.”

Moore sent a legal notice to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on Thursday asking for bids from air traffic control contracting companies in order to get a better idea.

“I don’t expect to ask the larger cities for more than $10,000 each,” Moore said. “I think my ability to raise $35,000 will be substantial.”

Last week the West Virginia Aeronautics Commission announced it would offer a 50 percent match of funds up to $100,000 or unless the FAA votes to reinstate funding to the three West Virginia towers at facilities here, Wheeling and Greenbrier County.

“That match will greatly help, but if we don’t have half of the funds, it does no good,” Moore said.

Along with the local governments, Moore said he expects to receive funds from individuals who are regular users of the facility as well as the Mid-Ohio Valley Aviation Association pilots organization.

“With as much as I appreciate whatever the individuals and MOVAA are able to give us to keep the tower going, it will only be a few thousand and we need much more to make this work,” Moore said.