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Local delegation deserves praise for keeping control tower open

By RICHARD ROOF Airport Manager Barkley Regional Airport

EDITOR:

All of us associated with Barkley Regional Airport would like to extend our gratitude and appreciation to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul as well as Congressman Ed Whitfield for their outstanding leadership in protecting aviation safety in our community and region.

Without their efforts, the legislation that Congress approved and the president has signed that funds the federal government through Sept. 30 would not have been possible.

As we all remember, the Federal Aviation Administration announced plans last spring to close 149 contract air traffic control towers nationwide, including the one at Barkley Airport, in an attempt to manage the sequestration-mandated budget cuts. We, along with many other airports across the country, argued vigorously against the FAA's plans, given the repercussions that closing federal contract towers would have had on aviation.

Thanks to the leadership and support of a bipartisan group of lawmakers who recognized the vital safety benefits that the contract towers provide to the nation's air transportation system, our contract tower and others were spared from closure last year. The recently enacted budget bill approved by Congress a few weeks ago will ensure that these critical air traffic facilities will remain open through this fiscal year as it sets aside funds earmarked specifically to support this vital program.

The FAA contract tower program, here along with 252 other airports across the country, continues to be one of FAA's most cost-effective programs for taxpayers and is a clear illustration of "smart" government programs during this challenging federal budget period.

Thank you once again to Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield for your efforts to protect the Contract Tower Program and making aviation safety a priority. The flying public of Paducah and the surrounding areas that is served by Barkley Regional Airport is truly grateful for your hard work and leadership.

RICHARD ROOF

Airport Manager

Barkley Regional Airport

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