DOBSON — County commissioners refused to support a future project which would expand the general aviation area at the Mount Airy-Surry County Airport, while also some area law enforcement officers were recognized for saving lives in Surry County.
On Monday evening, a letter of support for a future airport project failed to gain any traction among the members of the Surry County Board of Commissioners.
“Where does this project end?” asked Commissioner Buck Golding. “When do we cut the ribbon?”
The final phase of a project to lengthen, widen and harden the runway at the airport will soon begin, and that project has been discussed since the turn of the century. The purchase of adjacent properties to pave the way for the project began in 2010.
The general aviation area expansion project was eyed for funding from the N.C. Department of Transportation in 2023, according to correspondence included in the agenda packets of commissioners. The project, a nearly $6 million endeavor, would expand the apron and general aviation area at the airport and add additional hangars.
The county’s 10-percent match for the project would be $597,000, according to the letter from a Department of Transportation official.
The letter explained that in order for the state agency to consider the project for state funding a letter of support from the county board would be necessary.
The letter of support would be the manner in which the county board would commit the matching dollars for the project.
“I think it’s time to tap the brakes,” said Commissioner Van Tucker.
The Mount Airy-Surry County Airport Authority submits a master plan to the Department of Transportation which includes projects it would like to see funded for up to 10 years in the future. The general aviation expansion is one of those projects.
In May, however, Surry County officials forced a change of the airport’s governing board. Three county appointees to the seven-member airport authority were asked to sign prepared letters of resignation. Two others, whose terms had expired, were told they would not be reappointed. The city of Mount Airy’s two appointees to the board remained in their seats.
County commissioners appointed themselves to the five vacant seats, forming a “blended component” governmental entity through which county officials are much more involved in the operations of the airport and the decisions made at the airport.
Commissioners indicated they may take a look at revising which projects are eyed for the airport in their capacities as airport board members.
County board Chair Eddie Harris, who also chairs the airport authority, said that’s exactly what the members of the new airport authority intend to do.
“At our July meeting we will make some of those long-term decisions about future development at the airport,” said Harris, noting the list of projects is due to the state by the end of July.
“I think the current airport authority is evaluating the potential finality of expansion projects at the airport,” added Harris.
One commissioner, however, did advocate for some degree of support for the general aviation area expansion.
Commissioner Larry Johnson said he would consider the possibility of committing to less than the $597,000 by way of a letter of support.
The board took no action on the request for the letter of support, a move which signals there is not support for such a project.
Earlier in Monday’s meeting, three law enforcement officers were recognized for saving the lives of three Surry County residents.
According to EMS Director John Shelton, Mount Airy Police Department Officer Jerry Hatmaker recently began CPR on a resident who was unresponsive. He performed CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene.
Though the man, who was not identified, died two weeks later, Shelton said Hatmaker’s response to the urgent situation gave the man, who suffered from extensive medical problems, a shot at life.
Another police department officer, Adam Johnson, performed a similar task. Johnson, the first to arrive on the scene of a drug overdose, gave a patient a dose of naloxone before EMS officials arrived on the scene. His actions ultimately saved the life of the patient.
Surry County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Tony Sardler performed a similar action when he responded to a recent call. He administered a dose of naloxone to a female resident who had overdosed. Shelton noted the resident is now in a recovery program.
All three officers received certificates of recognition from the county board.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.