Datema gives an overview of Susanville airport
Jan. 2, 2013 — At the Dec. 19 Susanville City Council meeting, Steve Datema, airport manager, presented a brief history and overview of the Susanville Airport to help provide the council with a good foundation on which to move forward with possible projects.
Datema said the airport serves many needs. It provides a base for natural disasters such as last summer’s Rush Fire and an emergency air ambulance service.
“There are very few rural communities of this size that have base air ambulance service. The time to a trauma center is cut in half,” he said.
Medical specialists come in from Reno and Redding on a regular basis to see patients who would otherwise have to travel long distances to their appointments.
Various law enforcements, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) and the Susanville fire Department have used it.
“The CDC uses the airport quite a bit,” said Datema. “We’ve had prisoner transfers and attorneys come in. Sometimes it gets pretty active.”
The airport is also used for business purposes. UPS comes in daily, and executives and lawyers come in to conduct business.
Datema said, “For companies that are looking to relocate, one of the first things they ask is if there is an airport, what are its capabilities and how might they utilize it. If a company were to move to Susanville, the airport would be a very significant part of that decision.”
Because of its geographical location, Caltrans considers Susanville to be a regional airport. It is also a National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NIPIAS) airport, which allows it to get funding a lot of others don’t get.
“As a NIPIAS airport, Susanville is entitled to $150,000 a year for eligible projects. That’s money we’re going to get if we have a good project and can come up with a good match,” Datema said.
It’s also possible for the airport to combine the funds up to four years worth, which brings the sum up to $600,000.
There are also discretionary funds available according to Datema.
In the last 10 years, the airport has received more than $2 million dollars in grant money.
The airport has been growing during the past two to three years and Datema said the city needs to decide what it wants to do with it.
He said he would like to see a group organized of council members, airport commissioners and other community members to sit down and do some long-term planning about what they would like to do and decide how they are going to fund it.
He said, “I think everybody wants to see the airport maintained properly. Everybody wants to see stuff done. Everybody wants to see us take advantage of the funding that’s out there, but we have to figure out a way to do it where everybody is comfortable, and that’s why I think if we can get a group together to really talk about this we can make that happen. We have one of the better airports around. If you talk to some of the pilots who come in here, they go to a lot of airports and say we have one of the better ones, but it could be a whole lot better.”
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