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County commissioners weigh benefits of keeping Georgia airport openCounty commissioners weigh benefits of keeping Georgia airport open

County commissioners weigh benefits of keeping Georgia airport open

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County commissioners are "gathering all the facts" before deciding the fate of Callaway Gardens/Harris County Airport.
Click for larger image
AOPA told Harris County officials
that the airport's 5,000-foot runway
could help spur economic development.

AOPA is making sure that Harris County, Georgia, officials see the value of keeping Callaway Gardens-Harris County Airport (PIM) open.

AOPA Vice President of Regional Affairs Roger Cohen and AOPA Southeast Regional Representative Bob Minter recently traveled to Harris County to meet face-to-face with county commissioners and see the airport firsthand. County representatives told AOPA that they would gather all of the facts before determining the fate of the airport.

"After meeting with the commissioners and members of their staff, I'm confident that they will make the right decision for their citizens," said Cohen. "Their willingness to meet with us and with the FAA, to hear reasons for keeping the airport open despite the desire of one of the county's most powerful businesses - Callaway Gardens - to close it says to me that the commissioners are open to preserving it."

The management company that runs the Callaway Gardens resort wants to close the airport and build a five-story hotel in its place. The Callaway family originally gave the land to Harris County to build an airport. As a publicly owned airport that is part of the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS), PIM has accepted federal airport improvement grants that carry contractual obligations to keep the airport open for 20 years.

During their meeting with county commissioners, Cohen and Minter discussed the value of the airport to the county as a potential economic engine. The 5,000-foot runway, parallel taxiway, and terminal building are all in good shape and could be used not only to attract tourists to the Callaway Gardens resort, but to draw businesses to the fast-growing county.

"The county commission wants to move quickly on the issue, but told us they will hold at least one public hearing before making a final decision, hopefully within 60 days," said Cohen. "Between now and then, AOPA will make sure that the commissioners have all the information they need to see the benefits of keeping the county's only GA airport open."

January 28, 2005

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