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County approves match for airport master plan

LOUISBURG -- To get money, you've got to give money.

By a majority vote, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners did just that, agreeing to provide the 10 percent match needed for a $410,948.67 master layout plan for Triangle North Executive Airport.

The plan -- which will specifically outline the airport's current and future growth -- is necessary to pull down $12.2 million in state Division of Aviation grant funds that the county will use to extend the runway, bolster its infrastructure and expand the airport's footprint

"It's an exciting night for Franklin County," said Bo Carson, the existing industries coordinator in the county's Economic Development Office, who is serving as the airport's interim manager.

"And it's an exciting night for Triangle North Executive Airport."

In December 2017, the county was notified that it was in the process of receiving the aviation funding and that award was solidified in the summer of 2018.

In all, the state funding will allow the county to extend the 5,500-foot runway by another 1,000 feet; straighten an access road that will allow operators to purchase more land to expand the size of the airport and provide more revenue-generating hangars; and take care of some other paving and lighting issues at the county-run airport.

To carry out that plan, though, Carson said the county first needs to have the master layout plan completed.

"It is the blueprint for the airport," Carson said of the master layout plan.

"... It looks at our long-term development for the airport -- where are we going," he said. "It looks at the geographic representation of our existing facility, our existing infrastructure, what the future development looks like for airport and anticipated land use.

"... [With this plan] we're also going to establish a realistic schedule for the implementation [of the expansion]," he said. "[And] we're going to identify a realistic financial plan for implementation."

Each year, the airport pulls down $150,000 in state funds that it uses for capital projects at the airport. That funding can be bundled for up to four years to be used for significant projects, such as hangar construction.

County Manager Angela Harris said the airport has been "squirreling away" grant funding the last few years for a significant project and the master layout plan is it.

The plan will require a 10 percent match from the county -- $41,948.67.

Commissioners voted in favor of the move. Commissioner Harry Foy cast the lone dissenting vote.

"I'd be more than happy to vote yes for this 10 percent match if it was for the benefit of the mass of people," Foy said. "I don't really want to get back into the finances of the airport ... I don't agree with it."


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