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"Siskiyou supervisors to assess airport woes"

Friday, December 12, 2014

Siskiyou supervisors to assess airport woes
By David Smith
The Yreka (CA) Siskiyou Daily News

Siskiyou County's airports have struggled in recent years, but the potential
loss of the Happy Camp airport has some residents concerned that their
essential emergency services will take a devastating hit as well.

The Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors spent its previous two meetings
discussing the state of the county's five airports, including expenditures
and revenue, federal and state grant obligations, county resources weighed
against unmet needs and how the county will move forward in airport

The Happy Camp airport in particular has received a great deal of attention,
due in part to safety concerns that the county does not have the resources
to address.

County Administrator Tom Odom told the board Tuesday that Happy Camp
residents are concerned both with the potential impacts airport closure
would have on aerial medical evacuation services and the United States
Forest Service's ability to combat fires using aircraft.

County Director of General Services Randy Akana assuaged some of those fears
by noting that pilot services currently providing medical evacuations will
continue to do so using helicopters.

He said the companies will not be providing their airplane-based services
any longer, however, due to the myriad issues existing at the airport.

Adding to the maintenance and safety issues, Akana noted a new designation
from the Federal Aviation Administration for the Happy Camp airport will
eliminate $150,000 of federal funds.

On the USFS side, the board is hoping to create an ad-hoc committee to
discuss the agency's plans for continuing use of the airport and how the two
entities can work together to ensure that fire fighting services will not
suffer due to the airport's woes.

The supervisors voted Tuesday to add Happy Camp to the list of airports that
consulting firm Mead & Hunt will analyze in the coming year. The analysis,
according to agenda documents, will include an assessment of the
profitability and sustainability of the airports, as well as the costs of
addressing the various safety issues plaguing them.

The board previously directed staff to draft a request for proposal for a
fixed base operator at the Siskiyou County Airport near Montague. An FBO is
a commercial business that maintains and services aircraft at an airport.

The FBO request and draft analysis proposal are both expected to come before
the board in 2015, along with future discussions of potential revenue
generation strategies informed by the analysis.

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