The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 29, 2013

Air safety

— Sequester’s child.

That’s how Greenbrier Valley Airport manager Jerry Sullivan labeled the impending deadline facing the local airport, and more than 150 others across the country, when it comes to operating air traffic control towers.

During the next few weeks the Federal Aviation Administration intends to shut down these operations as a part of the federal government’s budget-cutting directive known as the sequester.

May 5 has been targeted as D-Day at the Maxwelton airport that hosts daily commercial commuter flights as well as numerous private aircraft. It is the closest facility to The Greenbrier resort and its busiest part of the year is quickly approaching.

Members of the Greenbrier Valley Airport Authority conducted an emergency meeting Wednesday and the group is exploring all options when it comes to the problem at hand.

Simply put, it’s something they shouldn’t have to do.

This is an air safety issue and compromising the lives of air travelers shouldn’t ever be part of the equation, sequester or not.

We understand budgets have to be cut based on decisions our elected federal leaders have made, or not made. But the funding needs to come from somewhere else.

While every citizen of our country can identify areas where cuts can and should be made, why aren’t our politicos in Washington taking stronger measures to reduce the billions we are shipping out of this country for foreign aid and military actions?

That alone would guarantee that the FAA wouldn’t have to be taking the drastic measures they have outlined, along with countless other federally funded services.

Again, we are all for better budget control and wiser spending practices, but when it comes to needlessly risking lives there should be no question what takes priority.