Neighbors express outrage over Paulding airport deal

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - Some Paulding County residents voiced their anger Tuesday over the deal to expand the local airport to include some commercial flights even as county commissioners are preparing to vote to help fund it.

The Paulding County Commission scheduled a vote Tuesday night to float a $3.6 million bond to help pay for taxiway widening and extending what is now called Silver Comet Field at Paulding Regional Airport.

It's part of a deal reached between the Airport Authority and Propeller Investments, a story Channel 2's Aaron Diamant broke two weeks ago.

Propeller Investments told Diamant it was already in talks with some airlines to begin commercial service and was working on proposals to lure aerospace and aviation companies to the airport.

But some residents, and even some political leaders, said they weren't informed about the deal until after it was already done. Some of them voiced their anger at a commission work session Tuesday morning.

"Obviously, you are intoxicated with your power beyond reason if you think your residents are willing to accept being treated with zero respect and such little regard," said opponent Susan Wilkins.

Commissioner Todd Pownall represents the district in which the airport is located. He claimed many of the commissioners knew about the deal but never informed him.

"We shouldn't be doing things like that to our people," said Pownall. "We should put it out front because now look what it's done. It makes me angry that I wasn't there to represent the people. That's what makes me angry."

But Airport Manager Blake Swafford tells a different story. He claimed the deal was discussed at several different Airport Authority meetings over the past 14 months, but very few people bothered to attend the meetings. He also said the deal will bring jobs and prosperity to Paulding County

"The economic impact is going to be big," said Swafford. "We think there's the potential to create a couple of thousand jobs within the next three to five years. And we think there's the potential to bring some bigger industry here."

The commission meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.