THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Twin County Airport License In Jeopardy
Issue Date: September 20, 2017
The Peshtigo Times has learned that the general utility operating license for Twin County Airport in Menominee appears to be in jeopardy. The Menominee County Airport Committee was informed on Tuesday, Sept. 19 that an FAA/Michigan DOT safety inspection last week revealed some critical obstructions . Trees that were identified as possible obstructions at the last inspection have not been removed, and apparently will need to be removed.
Attempts to contact Airport Manager Jeff LeFleur before press time were unsuccessful.
It appears the airport has been given 60 days to clear the obstructions, and is currently operating under a provisional license.
Until June 29, 2015, Marinette County was half owner of the airport, which is built on land originally owned by the city and county of Menominee. At that time the partnership that had existed for many years was dissolved.
While there currently is no scheduled commercial passenger service to or from the Menominee Airport many local businesses and industries use the facility, and economic development professionals have frequently declared that it is of vital importance to the area economy.
Before the dissolution in 2015 the Twin County Airport Commission had been torn with dissent. Each county was entitled to three commissioners. On some occasions, particularly during the year preceding the breakup, commission meetings were halted by boycotts and walk-outs by one county or the other. Occasionally became totally nonfunctional when commissioners refused to budge from positions divided by the Menominee River and state and county lines.
Improvements at the airport over the years had been done with the help of federal aviation grants. Some had a 20-year expiration, and others will never expire. When the dissolution was approved, Menominee County assumed responsibility for continuing to comply with grant requirements.
In 2014 each county appropriated $42,000 for airport operations. Reports to Marinette County Board in 2015 were that since 1998 they had put $1,258,000 into the airport. Annual appropriations since 1998 totaled $1,140,000, an additional $71,424 of Marinette County money went as matching funds for airport improvement projects, and $48,000 was paid toward Explorer Solutions studies of economic development opportunities for the airport, which has never produced results.
Improvements at the airport were done with FAA and State of Michigan matching fund grants through which FAA provided most of the money, matched by Michigan Aeronautics funds and then a 5 percent local match, toward which each county paid 2.5 percent.
Some of the Federal grants have a 20-year expiration and some do not expire. However, Menominee County will be responsible for continuing to comply with grant requirements.
Since the 2015 dissolution, Menominee County alone has paid for operation and maintenance of the airport, with the help of FAA and MDOT funding when available
There have been no public statements at this time what will become of the grant obligations if the loss of license becomes permanent, or to what degree the airport could continue to operate.
However, at its meeting Tuesday, the Menominee County Airport Committee did agree to hire a contractor for $3,500 to remove the treetops that obstruct the flight path. At the meeting LeFleur reportedly told the committee that if the airport loses its general utility license it would also lose the FAA and MDOT funding that helps keep it in operation.