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Mark’s Musings – February 15, 2012

| February 15, 2012
Mark Fortune

Mark Fortune

The Beacon accompanied representatives from Richard Downing Airport on Wednesday, Feb. 8 to a meeting in Columbus on funding, operations and the economic impact county airports have on their respective communities. The morning meeting was held at the offices of the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, located on East State Street.

Presenters included Brad Cole, managing director of research, County Commissioners Association of Ohio, Shane Farnsworth, Fairfield County Economic Development Director, David Scheffler, President, Fairfield County Airport Authority, Jerry Eichenberger, Attorney with Eichenberger and Buckley, LPA and Dave Dennis, Aviation Planner, Office of Aviation, Ohio Dept. of Transportation.

There are 81 general aviation airports in Ohio, including Richard Downing Airport. Farnsworth said, “Airport diversity is vast in Ohio,” and he suggested that people “look at their airports in a different way.” Farnsworth gave a power point slide presentation that suggested communities take the time to understand their airport and the many uses it can provide, from aviation to sky diving to balloon festivals to helicopters, training and more.

Farnsworth also said that the coming shale oil boom will benefit local airports, as many of the providers and companies associated with this industry have their own aircraft and prefer to utilize smaller airfields. Farnsworth said, “Your airport is a tremendous resource.”

David Scheffler, President of the Fairfield County Airport Authority, said, “We want to be good neighbors.” He also talked about the general aviation capital funding program, which provides $150,000 annually for airports. This funding is now at a 90/10 federal/local split with the recent passage of legislation which changed from a 95/5 federal/local split. There are also ODOT grants, with approximately $1 million available statewide annually.

It should be noted that Ohio receives less funding per airport from the FAA than other states. For example, West Virginia receives approximately $2 million per airport as an average – while Ohio is less than $1 million. Keep in mind that these numbers are an AVERAGE, with Port Columbus, Cleveland and other major airports getting most of those dollars.

Attorney Jerry Eichenberger told the audience, which included many airport administrators, to “Be more than an aeronautical gas station, get visionary and be a thriving community asset.” It would seem that the folks at Richard Downing are doing that exact thing, with air shows, community events and the addition of an outdoor amphitheater for performances and other programs.

It is the opinion of The Beacon that our very own Richard Downing Airport is a critical component in the future of this community – our community – and that it will become an even larger piece of our economic vitality in the region with the oil and shale gas boom soon to hit our area. The recent extension of the runway to 5,000 feet was an absolute gem of people working together for the common good and a superb display of what can happen when someone has a goal and will not stop until that goal is realized. The Richard Downing Airport is truly flying high for our community.

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Category: Mark's Musings

About the Author ()

I live with my beautiful wife Nancy on a small farm just outside Coshocton. We have been married for thirty two years and have two grown children, Jessica and Jacob. Jessica is married to Aaron Mencer and they are employed with Coshocton City Schools. Jacob is a sophomore at Kent State University. I graduated from River View High School, have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Wesleyan University and am actively involved with the Roscoe United Methodist Church, serve on several local committees and am a member of the Coshocton Kiwanis Club, having served as Past-President. I love reading, especially military thrillers, the Civil War and history in general. My goal is to write a novel. My wife and I are also AdvoCare distributors and encourage anyone wanting to lose weight, gain energy and better health to explore AdvoCare at our website; www.fortunes4advocare.com. I love the media field, innovative technology and have worked in newspapers for over 30 years – in fact, my first job was delivering newspapers. The Beacon is a dream made possible by the support of this community and a great team. I hope to continue serving Coshocton County for many years.

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