Wednesday, September 16, 2009

County seeks nominees for airport advisory committee

Process set for member selection

Express Staff Writer

Creation of the long-awaited Blaine County Airport Advisory Committee, to work on planning of a replacement to Friedman Memorial Airport, moved ahead another step Tuesday when the process for nominating members was approved by the Blaine County Commission.

Commissioners approved a letter to be sent to mayors of five Blaine County cities—Carey, Bellevue, Hailey, Ketchum and Sun Valley—asking them to create committees to nominate candidates for five seats on the airport advisory committee.

Commission Chairman Larry Schoen wrote in the letter that nominations should be sent by Nov. 13. He stated that after the County Commissioners interview nominees, final selections will be made by Dec. 15 and the advisory group seated.

The group will consist of one member each from the three County Commission districts, one named by the general aviation community and one at-large member picked by the County Commission.

Since February, a series of meetings involving officials of valley cities and the airport and aviation interests has been held to decide how a replacement airport should be governed, since the eventual closing of Friedman and construction of a new field outside of Hailey would end the joint management now held by the city of Hailey and Blaine County.

Critics of the present Friedman Memorial Airport Authority claim the county and Hailey have not properly represented interests of the north county or of general aviation. They've also insisted that a new advisory board should have immediate authority to make decisions during the planning and construction of a new airport, a demand repeatedly rejected.


One of the requirements for appointment to the new group is something of a loyalty oath—that members must "acknowledge the need for airport relocation and pledge to assist in achieving that goal." This tends to fulfill the view of Commissioner Tom Bowman that opponents of a new airport should not be seated.

Still undecided is how and when the advisory group would be phased in as the new governing body for a relocated airport.

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