Airport gets share of stimulus funds

Published 8:19 am Saturday, March 28, 2009

FRANKLIN—The city airport will receive federal stimulus money to rehabilitate its aging runway, according to an announcement made Friday.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood said $2.56 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) will go to the Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport.

“This administration is committed to getting the

U.S. economy going again and these grants are a part of making that happen,” LaHood said in a press release issued by the White House. “This grant represents a critical investment in our nation’s airport infrastructure that will boost the local economy by providing jobs for the area.”

The airport has been in existence since the early 1930s, when the Civilian Conservation Corps built it as a project during the Great Depression.

It was home to hundreds of Navy planes during World War II, providing a safer haven than fields near the Atlantic Coast.

Last summer, conversations began about establishing a regional authority to operate the field.

Currently, the City of Franklin owns and operates the airport, and has since the Navy deeded it to the city following World War II.

“It’s an investment in a service that needs to be provided in the area,” Franklin Mayor Jim Councill said last August about the importance of the airport.

On a day-to-day basis, the airport houses 28 planes in hangars that generate rent, and fuel is sold at the field at a slight profit. Many of the larger projects completed around the 360-acre field — such as building fences and adding or resurfacing taxiways — were funded through state and federal aid, particularly through money approved by the Federal Aviation Authority.

The 5,000-foot runway is used for various business flights, including passengers bound for International Paper Co. And the Navy uses the airport for helicopter practice landings and take-offs.