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Waste Watch: Closing Lake Murray Airport Could Cost Oklahoma Taxpayers
ARDMORE, OK-- The Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission (OAC) voted unanimously to close down the airport at Lake Murray State Park. The airport landed the number four spot in Senator Tom Coburn's "Wastebook 2012."
"There just comes a time to do the right thing," said Victor Bird, Director of the OAC.
The decision to shut down the airport follows a Fox-25 investigation tracking the money at what some consider a rarely used air strip. Records from the OAC show the last time any money was used at Lake Murray State Park Airport was in 2008.
OAC records also show the money given to Lake Murray State Park Airport was transferred to other Oklahoma Airports with higher traffic, like Ardmore Municipal Airport, Duncan Municipal Airport, and Davis Field Taxiway.
Bird says each airport in FAA's General Aviation Entitlement Program is only allowed $150,000 each year. He believes the FAA should allow more money to be given to higher need airports.
"The program needs to be changed to allow us that flexibility," said Bird, "and so we don't need to play this transfer game."
The business of transferring money from one airport to another has some pilots, like Darrell Mink with KMA Aviation questioning what the OAC is doing with taxpayer money. Mink is concerned over the cost of closing the airport at Lake Murray State Park.
"If you doze it up, that's going to cost you money," said Mink.
Although the cost of getting rid of the air strip stirs some concern, another major concern is how much Oklahoma taxpayer money could go to the federal government in penalties. As the OAC moves forward with closing the Lake Murray air strip, it could cost Oklahoma $184,000, which is the total federal investment on the airport.
Bird says the OAC plans to ask the US Secretary of Transportation for permission to reinvest that $184,000 into Oklahoma aviation.
Some critics of the OAC are skeptical about how that money will be spent.
"I'm a little leery with the way they've handled the money that they've been given in the past," said Mink.
Mink says although pilots in the Ardmore area are disappointed to see another airport close, he has a simple message for the OAC as officials move forward with their decision.
"Let's make sure we know how we're going to spend the money wisely, before we do something that's drastic like closing that airport," said Mink.
The FAA says Lake Murray State Park Airport is just one of 497 airports under review, if FAA officials determine the airport is no longer significant to aviation, OAC will not need to pay back the federal investment. An FAA spokesman says officials expect to complete the review in late 2013.
Posted: Monday, March 18 2013, 09:47 PM CDT
IN OKLAHOMA NEWS
Okla. governor signs abortion bill, 20 other bills
May 24, 2013 21:20 GMT
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed legislation that requires abortion providers to take additional steps to notify the parents of a minor who is seeking an abortion.
The measure was among 21 bills Fallin signed into law on Friday, when the Legislature planned to adjourn its 2013 legislative session.
The bill prohibits a minor from getting an abortion until at least 48 hours after written notice has been provided to her parent or guardian, except in cases of a medical emergency. In that case, the physician must verbally inform a parent within 24 hours after the abortion and send a written notice to the parent's last known address.
The bill includes an exemption for girls who are the victims of sexual or physical abuse.
House Bill 1588: http://bit.ly/10u4uzC
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