Residents outraged by plan to expand Paulding Co. airport

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. —

The Paulding County Commission voted Tuesday night to float a $3.6 million bond to help pay for taxiway widening at the local 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.

Some Paulding County residents voiced their anger Tuesday over the deal to expand what is now called Silver Comet Field at Paulding NW Atlanta to include some commercial flights.

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 political leaders said they weren't informed about the deal until after it was already done.

"There's a difference between confidential and secret," said Paulding County Commission Chairman David Austin. "We dealt in confidentiality because we were asked to."

Susan Wilkins voiced her anger at a commission work session Tuesday morning and again at the commission meeting Tuesday night.

"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 Wilkins.

Commissioner Todd Pownall represents the district where 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."

Austin said he found it hard to believe Pownall didn't know about the deal.

"Commissioners either choose to know information or they choose not to know," said Austin.

Airport Manager Blake Swafford 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."

Pownall was the only commissioner to vote in opposition.