Flying with Pork-Barrel Airways in Wise Virginia
Update 2015: this "investment" has produced nothing.
It is time to get real on these pork-barrel airport projects. Why should we spend millions of tax dollars just so a few rich private individuals can park their private planes? The airport in Wise and most other areas of Southwest Virginia are unprofitable and will need constant infusions of taxpayer cash to keep going. The fact the taxpayers have to pay for their improvements is proof of that. Even Tri-Cities Airport, in the much larger populated areas of Kingsport, Johnson City, and Bristol, has a difficult time staying afloat and keeping carriers.
As for jobs, the only jobs Wise has managed to "create" are working for the government or heavily subsidized by taxpayers. For example, most jobs "created" in the industrial park by Wise Airport are mainly customer service (call centers or answering the phone) that according to VCEDA pays $6.18 per hour and cost taxpayers thousands per job in subsidies. This has had no impact on the massive working class poverty and low pay scales the region suffers from. (All requests for details on costs, wages, etc. from both VCEDA and Congressman Boucher have been refused.)
Now they want to waste more tax dollars on another useless airport in Dickenson County (a few miles from the unprofitable Wise Airport) while the Dickenson County school system is starved for funding. Good going Congressman Boucher, the hogs are really in a feeding frenzy in Southwest Virginia!
Congress awards $1 million grant to Lonesome Pine Airport
The Coalfield Progress
December 28, 2001
U.S. Representative Rick Boucher announced Dec. 19 the U.S. Congress is providing a $1 million grant for improvements to the Lonesome Pine Airport. Congress accepted Boucher's request that funds be used to continue the upgrade of the airport to an all weather facility.
"I am extremely pleased that the Congress has agreed to my request to provide funding for improvements to the Lonesome Pine Airport," Boucher said. "Improvements of the facility are among our region's highest transportation priorities, and the federal funding will ensure that the goal of making the Airport more useable by industry in Wise County is met."
The grant money will be combined with yet another $1 million provided by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2000. The combination of these two contributions will fund installation of an Instrument Landing System at the Lonesome Pine Airport. These improvements will enhance the safety of the airport and allow it to be used during inclement weather.
"The presence of an all weather airport is an essential element in the recruitment of new employers to a region. Many corporations have policies which do not allow them to use the Lonesome Pine Airport given the absence of an ILS," Boucher said.
Boucher concluded that the installation of the ILS will promote economic development for Wise County and the city of Norton, enhancing the quality of life for area residents.
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