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Paulding commissioners kept airport project quiet for fear of losing to competitors
by Adam Elrod
aelrod@neighbornewspapers.com
October 11, 2013 02:09 PM | 1537 views | 3 3 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Some Paulding County commissioners said they knew about a lease to a high-profile aerospace investment company for more than a year but kept it quiet to keep from potentially losing the project to competitors.

At last week’s commission meeting Post 2 Commissioner Todd Pownall, whose district includes the Silver Comet Field at Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, said he was unaware of the lease with New York-based Propeller Investments. Propeller plans to recruit aerospace businesses and invest in airport facilities that could lead to commercial air service.

Post 1 Commissioner Dave Carmichael and Post 3 Commissioner Tommie Graham agreed they knew about the lease since 2012.

Graham said he was invited by the Paulding County Industrial Building Authority and Airport Director Blake Swafford to sit in on a meeting with Propeller in August 2012.

Brett Smith, the company’s managing director, and Graham then traveled to New York state and visited three other airports to see how they function, which proved to him such facilities could coexist with surrounding communities, Graham said.

“I think it is good,” he said.

Carmichael was a member of the Paulding County Airport Authority at the time the agreement was voted on in October 2012. He was elected to the county commission the following month.

Propeller is the largest aerospace and aviation investment firm in the U.S., which will help them recruit aerospace businesses to Paulding, he said.

By bringing in more business this will allow residents to stay in the county for employment, as well as bringing in tax revenue, he said.

Carmichael said if one midsized aircraft was stored in a hanger at Paulding airport it could bring more tax revenue than 27 average homes.

He said he voted for the lease when he was a member of the airport authority.

“I am a strong proponent for the airport.,” Carmichael said.

Post 4 Commissioner David Barnett said he was informed about it in a meeting about two months ago.

“I think it is going to be a good thing,” he said.

He is looking forward to the jobs the partnership could bring, Barnett said.

Commission Chairman David Austin said during last week’s commission meeting all commissioners were sent an email about the agreement, and said Pownall chose not to return the email or phone calls about the lease.

Austin also insinuated he could not trust Pownall with the information since they did not tell him about the lease later.

“Does that tell you something?” Austin told Pownall. “Does that tell you anything about trust?”

Pownall said he received a call from Swafford Oct. 3 in the afternoon saying he would like to talk about something, but Pownall was not able to answer or call him back. That night Pownall saw the story on TV news about the agreement, he said.

Pownall said he supports the Propeller lease. However, he said he was “hurt” that he was not informed.

Residents should have had a chance to voice their opinions, and the lease should have been voted on by the commissioners, Pownall said.



Comments
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October 28, 2013
When the Commission Chairman Austin said he had a trust issue with Mr. Pownall, I immediately lost a bit of trust in Mr. Austin. When you cannot be open and above board on something as important as this, there may be something fishy. If it is as Mr. Swafford said in a previous article that he and the Airport Authority make all decisions on the new airport, why is the Board of Commissioners involved? As you drive through our county it looks pretty good, but what is our financial outlook? Are we in debt by spending money on something that might work out? What is the cost to the county for the expansion of the runway? Also, how long will it be before we see a return on that investment, IF this does work out? I believe a commercial passenger airline is a toss-up. We are just a short drive on Camp Creek Parkway to the Atlanta Airport which has many non-stop flights to anywhere. On the other hand, there could be a need for shorter flights to other out-of-the way town/airports. As for Delta, they have made a big investment in the International Terminal, AND just in case anyone hasn't notice we are in a direct flight pattern to the Atlanta Airport. I love Delta and their non-stop flights to CA and CO.

I do feel that Mr. Austin has made a big mistake.
PCCC
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October 16, 2013
Also, David Austin lied and the so-called email was on the same day the announcement was made about the airport. Furthermore, the email had nothing to do with the announcement, it was sent about a quick meeting at the airport with the investors. Pownall was ignored and kept out of the loop on purpose and it isn't the 1st time because Pownall isn't one of the "good" ole boys.
PCCC
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October 16, 2013
They left us citizens, who btw, pay for that airport. They did it in secret and left Commissioner Post 2, Pownall out of the loop. Austin did this for election purposes. Not everyone is pleased on how this was handled regardless of what the PCBOC say.

BOC elections cannot come soon enough to boot Austin and Graham.
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