Pike County commercial air service plans could be in trouble

By: Whitney Burks Email
By: Whitney Burks Email

Officials in Pike County have been working for nearly six years to bring commercial air service to the area.

Now it is up to the fiscal court to pass a resolution asking for multi-county coal severance funds.

Officials say if it does not pass soon the whole project could be in trouble.

Some officials say they could lose a $750,000 federal grant without that fiscal court resolution, and time is running out.

But Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford says he does not know if the court will pass it or not.

It has been a dream of many officials in Pikeville for nearly six years. They say bringing commercial air service to the area could impact economic growth.

"When we hear 200 more mining jobs gone or another mine closed, what are we going to do? We believe that this service is an essential tool and is absolutely imperative that we have this in place to plan for the future of Eastern Kentucky," said Jared Arnett, Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President.

Recently, Pikeville city officials applied for a $750,000 grant, but they say without the Pike County Fiscal Court's support to pass a resolution asking for multi-county coal severance funds they could lose that grant.

"Right now our application is the only application that is not complete, that does not have both resolutions of support," said Arnett.

They say the fiscal court has been warned they are running out of time, but county officials say they were not originally included in this decision to get commercial air service.

"I think if on the front end that the county would have been involved, matter of fact Pike County Fiscal Court built the airport. Nobody else had any money in it," said Judge Executive Wayne T. Rutherford.

Judge Rutherford says he does support the idea, but he does not know if the court is willing to vote for the use of coal severance money.

"They just left us out, didn't ask us, didn't tell us, didn't show us the courtesy. We want commercial air service. That's not the question," he said.

He says they will be voting at the next meeting.

"It's now or never for commercial air service. If it's going to happen, it's up to the community right now to step up and make it happen," said Arnett.

The next fiscal court meeting will be held August 7 at 10 a.m.

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