Originally created 09/22/05

Story about FAA grant needs clarification



The Chronicle's Aug. 26 article "Airport flies to get FAA funds" was inaccurate and misleading. We did not come within days of missing a March deadline to apply for federal funds, nor did I discover by accident that the airport had received the grant.

Further, after eight years as airport manager, I am very much aware of the required process to obtain approval to accept federal grants. Lastly, the airport's asking for $19 million for the terminal construction is not "pie in the sky."

The Federal Aviation Administration has determined that almost $19 million of the $25 million terminal project is eligible for federal funding. The airport was not late in applying for this funding. We were almost too late in going to Washington last March to meet with our congressional delegation to discuss our grant request before the budget process ended.

The airport has received $5 million in grant money for the terminal project. We expect to get more, and are working with our representatives to secure additional funds.

When the FAA issues a grant, it also imposes a deadline for the grant to be executed by the local government and returned. In the past several years, that deadline has been two to four weeks after the grant was issued. The deadline this year was five days, which is not enough time to go through the normal local approval process.

I was in the office of the clerk of commission discussing approval of the Daniel Field grant when my secretary called to tell me that the grant for the Augusta Regional Airport had just been faxed to the airport by the FAA and that the FAA would not extend the deadline beyond Sept. 1. Augusta Mayor Willie Mays and city clerk Lena Bonner recognized the importance of obtaining quick approval of the grants and were able to add this issue to the agenda of the next Augusta Commission meeting.

Willis M. Boshears Jr., Augusta

(Editor's note: The writer is executive director of the Augusta Regional Airport.)