Airport may finally get $2 million grant for planned expansion

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Jessie Burchette
While U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole announced a $2 million grant for the Rowan County airport, it appears her replacement, U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, will be delivering the money.
During a campaign sweep through the state last August, Dole summoned county commissioners to the airport and presented a very large mock-up of the $2 million check.
A story Aug. 5 in the Post noted Dole brought some bacon home.
For several months, county officials waited and wondered if the real check had gotten lost in the mail.
During the board’s retreat in February, some commissioners quizzed county staff on whether the check had arrived.
Several jokes flew about it being in the mail.
Commissioners urged County Manager Gary Page to make some calls and find out the status of the $2 million.
It appears the check could soon be on the way.
Page said Wednesday he had been assured that the airport money is part of the spending bill approved Tuesday by Congress. President Barack Obama signed the $410 billon spending bill Wednesday.
Page talked with officials in Raleigh in the Division of Aviation. They have been tracking federal funds for airport projects across the state.
According to published reports, the 1,132 page bill contained an estimated 8,570 earmarks totalling $8 billion.
The airport money would be among the earmarks.
Carl Ford, chairman of the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, said Wednesday that the Dole announcement of bringing home the bacon was a bit premature. “The greased pig was still on the loose,” Ford said.
Commissioners are hoping to get a real check in the near future.
The spending bill is also expected to bring good news for Kannapolis.
Former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes put in an earmark for $925,000 to build a railroad crossing bridge over Ridge Avenue at Rogers Lake Road (formerly Universal Street).
Contact Jessie Burchette at 704-797-4254.