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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of  October 3 - 9, 2001


report to airport

Parking lot reopened

Express Staff Writer

The parking lot at Hailey’s Friedman Memorial Airport was reopened Friday after Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne ordered the Idaho National Guard to assist with airport security there and in four other cities.

National Guard specialists Mike Hymas, left, and Donn Drury began assisting with Hailey airport security Friday following an order from Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorn. Express photo by Travis Purser

With more manpower available, airport security personnel began searching automobiles and allowing drivers to park in the terminal parking lot, which had been closed since just after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

Kempthorne’s order followed a request Thursday from President George Bush. The president asked the nation’s governors to deploy the National Guard to help airports meet new security requirements the Federal Aviation Administration imposed following the attacks.

The guardsmen are "probably going to be the long-term solution" to the airport’s recent parking problems, said Hailey airport manager Rick Baird. An earlier plan to construct a concrete barrier in front of the terminal and then reopen the parking lot is indefinitely on hold, he said.

National Guard Specialists Donn Drury and Mike Hymas patrolled the terminal and manned X-ray scanners and metal detectors Monday morning, while a Sheriff’s deputy checked vehicles at the parking lot gate.

Hymas said protecting Hailey’s airport is important because it can provide a back door to the security of larger airports. Also, "about a third of the nation’s wealthy have flown in here," he said, referring to Sun Valley’s popularity as a resort destination for the world’s wealthiest moguls.

Blaine County Sheriff Walt Femling, who said he has been overseeing airport security since Sept. 11, said the addition of the guardsmen allows him to cut back on the number of deputies assigned at the airport from two to one per shift.

The specific duties of the guardsmen have not yet been defined—rather, in Hyman’s words, they are providing an "additional presence." Femling said that Adjutant General John Kane would elaborate on the Idaho National Guard’s role sometime this week.

Kempthorne chief of staff Phil Reberger said the FAA would be sending experts to Idaho to train the guardsmen.

"Things are changing daily, so it’s hard to give any long-range plans," Femling said.

The guardsmen said they have been working 17-hour shifts every day and have been sleeping at the Hailey Armory.

The federal government is paying for the guardsmen, but Baird said that does little to reduce the huge cost of implementing new security since Sept. 11.

The guardsmen could be on duty for up to six months while the federal government works out a permanent security plan for the nation’s airports.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.