The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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October 1, 2013

FAA promises to continue funding for control tower

MAXWELTON — Under the shadow of a potential federal government shutdown, the Federal Aviation Administration assured a Greenbrier Valley Airport official Monday the Maxwelton facility’s air-traffic control tower will remain open.

“The FAA came out with a contingency plan,” airport manager Jerry O’Sullivan said. “The plan calls for the FAA to fund the contract towers, like ours.”

Airport officials had been scrambling to come up with alternative funding that would allow the tower at Greenbrier Valley to remain open, even if federal funds fell victim to the Beltway power struggle.

“This is very good news,” O’Sullivan remarked Monday afternoon. “It’s certainly better than dipping into our own pockets.”

The Greenbrier County Airport Authority met Friday evening to discuss the potential impact of a government shutdown on local operations, determined to keep the air-traffic tower open until the federal budget snarl could be resolved.

Prior to that meeting, O’Sullivan emphasized the “tremendous stress” the job instability was placing on the tower’s four operators.

A number of U.S. air-traffic control facilities  — including Greenbrier Valley’s — were threatened with closure earlier this year when lawmakers failed to meet budget deadlines, leading to the across-the-board funding cutbacks known as “sequestration.” A rare burst of bipartisan cooperation averted the tower closures at that time.

— E-mail: talvey@register-herald.com

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