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Mayor: Air traffic tower to remain in operation though September

By Corene Brisendine

Mayor Loren Pepperd announced Tuesday night that the city would keep the air traffic control tower operating through the end of the fiscal year, but commissioners decided to hold the final decision on how to do that until the next commission meeting. The air traffic controller item was added at the last minute to Tuesday night’s city commission agenda that addressed FAA pulling funding for the air traffic control tower controllers at Manhattan Regional Airport.

Mayor Loren Pepperd said that even though the city has not determined how the contract covering the air traffic controllers would be funded, it would continue to operate as it does today through the end of this fiscal year, which is until the end of September.

Commissioners agreed to hold the decision on where the funding for that would come from along with how the tower would be operated in future years until the next commission meeting on April 2. The decision to wait until more information can be gathered by city management was influenced by Airport Director Peter Van Kuren’s announcement that the FAA will not pull funding for the tower until May 5, and the city could also apply for an extension if the commission determines it wants to keep the control tower operating though other revenue sources. Van Kuren said that extension would amount to weeks not months, but would help the commission take more time to get a better handle on funding sources.

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