UPDATE: MOV Airport Tower To Stay Open; FAA Announces Funding For Small Airports Thru Sept. 30

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Updated: 5/10/2013 6:10 P.M.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Transportation Departments says 149 control towers at small airports that were slated for closure will remain - open at least through Sept. 30.

The department sent out a brief statement Friday. It says Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has determined there is enough extra money, under a bill passed by Congress last month, to keep the towers open through the end of the budget year.

The towers are operated by contractors for the Federal Aviation Administration at low-traffic airports.

They were scheduled to close June 15 as part of the FAA's plan to accommodate automatic spending cuts required by Congress.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Updated: 4/05/2013 6:10 P.M.

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is delaying the closing of 149 airport control towers until mid-June in order to deal with legal challenges.

The first 24 closures had been scheduled for Sunday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Friday the closures will be delayed until June 15. Trade groups representing companies that operate the towers under contract for FAA filed a lawsuit Thursday in federal court in Washington.

The agency says about 50 airport operators and communities have also indicated they may want to pay for operation of the towers themselves, and more time is needed to work out those details.

FAA has previously said the closures are necessary to accommodate automatic spending cuts.

Updated: 4/03/2013 8:00 P.M.

There are banking institutions, large and small, throughout West Virginia. But none as large as the ones who nearly failed five years ago, and needed a federal bailout.

" The community banks did not cause the financial collapse, did not cause the banking fiasco," U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Wednesday. "It was the large Wall Street banks. And why are we being penalized, why are having an overzealous reach from the regulatory boards, which results in more costs, and keeps money from flowing out."

But local bankers who spoke with the senator told stories of having to scruitinize loans given to their customers, even those they've known for years, because of the financial regulations which resulted from that collapse.

"You can't be a $60 million bank in rural West Virginia and afford to comply with the laws," said Randall Snider, President, Community Bank. "And, what's worse, when the regulators are coming in, the field examiners are just as much at a disadvantage because they're afraid of making a mistake, and they don't know the laws, either."

A government budget issue having its own effects is the sequester, which threatens to result in the shutdown of the federally-controlled tower at the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. The airport wants to fund that privately until next October, when a new federal budget year begins.

The senator plans to discuss that Thursday with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. But he cautions that a budget agreement is needed in the long run.

"We should be able to come together, and put a budget together to live within our means."

Manchin says he voted for the budget recently approved by the Senate-the first such budget approved in four years-to get it before a House-Senate conference committee.


Updated: 3/22/2013 6:10 P.M.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce says that, so far, it hasn't heard much from the businesses it represents about changes coming to the area's airport.

"The concern is, ow that will be impacted by not having a tower to help the pilots to land and know what is going on in the air," says Jill Parsons, President of the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce. "The good thing is, that planes will still be flying in and out of Wood County. "

And that seems to be the one thing that's a certainty, after last week's announcement that towers will be shutting down, either sometime in April or May. Silver Airways, which runs passenger service locally, also provides service to several airports which don't have towers. among them is the Beckley-Bluefield Airport.

"They don't have a tower, and they've never had a tower," says local airport manager Terry Moore. "So, I want to talk to Tom Cochran, the manager down there, to see what procedures they have in place and what they're doing to accommodate their air traffic and see if we can apply that up here."

Moore has also learned that, even after the air traffic controllers are gone, the tower frequencies will still be operable. Those control runway landing lights, which guide landing aircraft. but the airport's plan right now is, prepare for the worst.

"I know there's some hope still out there, but we're thinking it's going to close, and what systems need to change and what procedures need to be shifted," Moore says. "We're forming a committee to review flying procedures, to see if there's any new ones we need to publish to make the airport safer."

Moore does want to put one rumor to rest: the closing of the tower does --not-- mean the closing of the airport.


UPDATE: 3/22/2013 6:19 PM

Automatic federal budget cuts forced towers to close across the country.

The FAA announced Friday it will close 149 air traffic control towers across the country.

The Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport is one of them.

All the affected airports will remain open.

Pilots will now be responsible for coordinating takeoffs and landings over a shared radio frequency.

Air traffic controllers at the regional airport will lose their jobs. But Wood County Commissioner Wayne Dunn says travelers will not be affected.

"It's not going to affect them. No. I mean it just affects the pilots coming in and going out of the airfield. But otherwise, it won't because it's just the tower. The services on the ground are still going to stay the same," says Dunn.

The MOV Regional Airport is one of three airports in West Virginia on the tower closing list.

The other two are Lewisburg and Wheeling.

The 149 towers will be closed over a four-week period starting April 7th.

CHICAGO (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration says it will close 149 air traffic control towers at small airports around the country because of federal budget cuts.

The agency announced the decision Friday, a month after it released a preliminary list of facilities that could be closed.

All of the affected airports will remain open. Pilots will be left to coordinate takeoffs and landings among themselves over a shared radio frequency with no help from ground controllers. That's something they are trained to do, but airport directors have raised concerns about the potential impact on safety.

In an accompanying statement, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta says the agency will take steps to ensure safe operations at the affected airports.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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