Federal grant received to improve Garrett County Airport

From The Garrett County Republican

McHENRY — A grant award from the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) will 100%-fund the construction of eight corporate hangars at the Garrett County Airport.

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin, both D-Md., jointly announced the DOT grant award last month.

This renovation project has been a priority for the community airport and has been included in the strategic improvement plan since 2015. The addition of eight hangars and a ramp directly into to McHenry Industrial Park were identified to better serve customers.

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Instrument landings to continue at Garrett airport

Navigational signal will be provided by Morgantown

Elaine Blaisdell

Cumberland Times-News

— OAKLAND — The Morgantown Municipal Airport will be providing an approach navigational signal to the Garrett County Airport that will allow instrument landings to continue at the airport, according to Jay Moyer, director of Garrett County Public Works.

The signal will replace the Grantsville VOR (VHF omnidirectional range) system on Pea Ridge Road that will be decommissioned by the Federal Aviation Administration.

“That will allow the older planes to still use the VOR system for instrument approach. They will be able to land at the airport in foul weather,” said Moyer during the Garrett County Commission meeting Tuesday. “It’s not an issue for the much newer corporate planes, they can use the GPS system. This is important to the airport because, so to speak, we don’t always have the best weather for landing at that airport and this will provide them the system to land at our airport.”

The decommissioning of the VOR system drew opposition from Ed Kelly, manager of the Garrett County Airport, as well as the Maryland Aviation Administration. The VOR had to be decommissioned for the Fourmile Ridge wind project.

The Maryland Public Service Commission approved the Fourmile wind project, which will consist of 16 turbines on Frostburg Road, last year.

The Garrett County Engineering Department is in final negotiations for the road use agreement with Exelon for Frostburg Road. An issue with a portion of the agreement that deals with catastrophic damage is still being negotiated, according to Moyer.

“We want some language in there in the event something unforeseen happens that they will bear the expense on that,” said Moyer. “They have committed to paving all the roads involved to the tune of $563,000.”

Commissioner Jim Raley said that there had been some complaints about the road and that the county needs to continue to be proactive instead of reactive.

“In other words, getting down there checking that road on a regular basis making sure the contractor is complying with what we had agreed to,” said Raley.

There is an inspector who visits the project location on a regular basis, according to Moyer.

Garrett County Economic Development is currently in negotiations with Exelon to acquire a 2- to 3-acre plot in Keysers Ridge Business Park, according to Frank Shap, assistant director of Garrett County Economic Development. Exelon currently operates one wind project in the county and is working to develop Fourmile Ridge and Fair Wind, a 15-turbine project planned for Backbone Mountain.

“I believe those negotiations will be successful, although we don’t have a signed contract yet,” said Shap.

Exelon will probably take up a 4,000 square-foot-space in the park and four to six jobs will be created, according to Shap.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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FAA Planning To Shut Down Local Navigation Site

Mar. 28, 2013

The Federal Aviation Administration wants to decommission a regional aircraft navigational station because of the Synergics Fourmile Ridge Wind Energy Project that is planned for the Avilton area. Twenty-four wind turbines would be constructed within 1.5 to 3.5 miles of the Grantsville (GRV) VHF omnidirectional range (VOR)/distance measuring equipment (DME) facility.


Garrett County Airport manager Ed Kelley, the Maryland Aviation Administration officials, and others have voiced their opposition to eliminating the station.

“The decommission of the GRV VOR would leave Garrett County and Cumberland [airports] without a ground-based approach and would eliminate numerous instrument procedures, including six instrumental approach procedures, nine standard arrival routes, four victor airways, and one remote communication outlet,” Kelley stated in a letter on Feb. 13 to Melinda George, FFA Operations Support Group, Atlanta, Ga. “The loss of procedures and services could severely impact the safety of general, commercial, emergency, and military aviation within the now served VOR/DME.”

VOR/DME refers to a combined radio navigation station for aircraft, which consists of two beacons that are placed together.

VOR is a type of short-range radio navigation system that enables pilots to determine their position and stay on course by receiving very high frequency (VHF) radio signals transmitted by a network of fixed ground radio beacons with a receiver unit.

DME operates in the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band and provides pilots with distance information through airborne and ground equipment.

Kelley noted in his letter that pilots operating under visual flight rules who utilize the VOR/DME for training, practice, and proficiency will be forced into other corridors served by only one navigational aid.

He also indicated that while Garrett County is an “ideal spot” for wind turbines, Fourmile Ridge and other projects will and do affect the safety and economic outlook of the Garrett County Airport.

“Local economic growth and commerce could be lost by the proposed decommissioning, causing additional economic hardships to Garrett and Allegany county airports,” Kelley wrote. “This region cannot afford to lose critical, all-weather, en route, and terminal access to the National Airspace System.”

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Garrett facility waits to develop its tech

County: With money, center can become state-of-the-art

Elaine Blaisdell Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — A new emergency operations center has been established in a conference room at the Garrett County Airport. As money becomes available, features will be added to make the center a state-of-the-art facility, according to John Frank III, Garrett County’s director of emergency management.

In the case of an emergency, the facility will be used as a meeting place for all those involved.

“The entire project is in the fledgling stage and is under development,” said Frank. “It’s centrally located at the Garrett County Airport, which is owned and operated by the county. If there is a major event in the county, we can expand to use the airport terminals.”

Frank said that, in the future, as monies became available, he hopes to install interactive smartboards, video monitors and a terminal for tablets and smartphones.

Also, in the future, the center could be used as a classroom and may expand to include a backup 911 center, according to Frank.

County Administrator Monty Pagenhardt is working on fine-tuning the budget to see what monies are available for the center.

“(The center) is a priority now for the county. It’s going to be a top-notch center,” said Pagenhardt.

The need for a center was determined last year and previously a makeshift command center at the courthouse was used. However, the makeshift center didn’t entirely meet the county’s emergency needs, said Pagenhardt.

“John has been in contact with the Governor’s Office and everything has been coming together for the center,” said Pagenhardt.

Federal Emergency Management and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency have been helpful in moving the process along, according to Frank.

The center will eventually have broadband once the countywide broadband project is complete, according to Pagenhardt. Currently there is broadband up to Mosser Road where Garrett College is located.

Frank said he will have a satellite office at the center.

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.