Decatur Co. Airport receives federal funding

Published 11:15 am Monday, January 3, 2022

The federal government has been freely distributing money this past year, with COVID relief packages, as well as the recent infrastructure bill. One of the various organizations to benefit from this legislation is the Decatur County Airport.

“We’ve gotten several amounts of that at different times this year,” airport manager Tommy Johnson told the Post-Searchlight about the COVID relief. According to Johnson, the airport has received three portions of relief funds, one for $32,000, and two smaller amounts of $12,000 and $13,000. These funds are being managed by the county commissioners.

As for the infrastructure bill, according to Johnson, the state of Georgia has had $123,255 reserved for airport infrastructure projects and improvements. While the airport does not have their portion of the funds earmarked for anything in particular, Johnson suggested that paying for increasingly expensive fuel might be one use.

“Naturally, the fuel prices have gotten higher this year, so we may be able to use that to compensate for some fuel prices, to sort of cushion the budget a little bit,” he said.

Neither of these sources of funding will be used for the airport’s upcoming projects, namely their planned fuel farm and their apron resurfacing.

“We’ve been very lucky with that,” Johnson said. “But all the money that’s designated for those projects has to come from that designated money.”

The fuel farm project has, according to Johnson, been a “nightmare from a supply chain point. Despite the difficulties, the fuel farm is expected to be in place by the end of January. As for the apron resurfacing, bids for contractors were opened before Christmas, however, only one of the three companies that participated actually bid. As a result, there will be another bidding opportunity, which is scheduled for January 15-16.

“Our business has really increased this year over last year,” he said. “A lot of that is, more people are flying their private planes, and then the charter business, we’ve seen a lot of fueling from the charter business… which, once this fuel farm gets up and activated, that will really increase our business, because they’ll be able to come in here at night when we’re not here and get fuel if they need it.”

This increase in business has led to more growth for Bainbridge. “I have seen several couples come in here this year, and they’ve actually come in and taken our courtesy car, went to Bainbridge, looked around, and some of them have actually moved here,” Johnson said. “We try to promote Bainbridge along with us.”