Support the Panama City Airport Relocation – Write your State Representatives

by January 16, 2008 • 5 comments

Last week at the Panama City Beach Chamber’s Friday at the Beach local attorney William Harrison asked that everyone get more involved in voicing support for the airport relocation. Currently the USAC-issued 404 Permit has been temporarily suspended and full speed-construction halted pending a January 23rd court date that I assume will begin an arduous process of who is right and wrong.

Following the event, an email was sent out to the Chamber members with contact information for our Congressman and Senator and other local and state representatives asking us to write them in support of the relocation. I have sent them an email voicing my support and encourage everyone to do the same. And, just for the fun of it, I’ve started a new poll on the top right of the page titled “Do you support the airport relocation”. Please vote!

Senator Mel Martinez

Senator Bill Nelson

Congressman Allen Boyd

Governor Charlie Crist

Representative Jimmy Patronis

I have sent them all an email and hope that you will too.

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1 seer January 17, 2008 at 4:04 am

Our Country is in trouble. The economic expansion of our great Country has been stopped by lobbyist that won’t allow the USA to create new economic developments. The USA was once the World leader in economic development, this allowed us to invest in emerging markets and help create what is now a World economy. Now we have decided to do away with the ability to create new jobs and are on the fast track to another great Depression. The stopping of the New Bay County, Panama City Airport is just another giant step in destroying the USA ecomomy and its survivability. The Country needs economic expansion now!!! This Country needs the 100,000 plus jobs this New Airport will bring to this area over the next 10 years. We have not had an Airport or an Oil Refinery built in this Country for 20 years, surely this is not because we don’t need them.
We must do our best to protect the environment but things have gone too far. We must protect our Nation and its People. The Land set aside for environmental preservation around the New Airport is unprecedented. This Airport has taken 10 years to get this far through the maze of permitting and planning processes. In any other Country like Saudi Arabia, China, India, Russia, Iran or Europe there People and the Nations would already be benefiting from its Installation. These and other Countries are certainly benefiting from the USA not expanding our Oil drilling and Refining and we are paying for it now. It is good to share the wealth and to help feed the Worlds People no other Country does like the USA does. There comes a time when we must reinvest in our Nation to help protect the welfare if its people. The wealthy Companies and Individuals of this Great Nation need opportunities here so they don’t have to send all their investment capital out of the Country to get a return on their money. The New International Airport is crucial for the future of our Nations economic development and expansion. Additional opportunities Nationwide must be freed up to help this Great Nation’s stressed economy as well.


2 Brett Kennedy January 22, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I 100% support the new airport. Mostr esidents in the Panhandle do not have a clue how much they all will benifit from this airport.
Airfare to major cities will be 1/2 what they are now, so more economical to travel to visit family!
I can’t even imagine the number of jobs not only the airport will bring but also a large number of new business to the area!
All in all, it will be better for everyone!

Brett Kennedy


3 Wanda Dule January 22, 2008 at 10:59 pm

This is the only hope for our area to survive over the next 5 years…real estate is our lifeblood and without European buyers, we don’t have a chance.


4 Diane January 22, 2008 at 11:06 pm

News the local media will not report. William Harrison’s “prediction” that the Okaloosa Airport is being closed – as another reason we need a new airport — has been debunked by the Okaloosa Airport manager and the Air Force. The manager was pretty ticked off. Perhaps readers saw Okaloosa’s ad in the Sunday paper that was a direct rebuttal to William’s fantasy. Also, below are media reports from Fort Walton and P’Cola TV news. The earlier false claim that the runway was unsafe was eventually debunked; and now another one. Isn’t it time to serious examine the other claims about the new airport?

NW Fla Daily News
Okaloosa airport rumors untrue
Panama City chamber had sent mass e-mail saying airport would close in 2010 Dusty Ricketts
Monday January 14th, 2008

A mass e-mail sent last week by the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce says that Eglin Air Force Base is closing the Okaloosa Regional Airport by 2010.
The only problem with the e-mail is that it’s not true.

“That is so frivolous,” said Okaloosa County Airport Director Jerry Sealy. “Someone started that stinking rumor. There is absolutely no truth to that.”

The purpose of the Greater Panama City Beaches Chamber of Commerce’s e-mail is to gather support for the area’s new airport, which has been delayed by a lawsuit.

The faulty information about Okaloosa’s airport is included among bullet points suggested for members to use when talking to state and federal politicians.
The e-mail was sent to roughly 945 chamber members asking them to write letters to Gov. Charlie Crist and Sens. Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson seeking their support for the new Panama City-Bay County International Airport, which is under limited construction.

The project has been delayed by a lawsuit attempting to kill the new building because it would harm “environmentally sensitive areas.”

Sealy said the Okaloosa Regional Airport recently extended its long-term land lease with Eglin Air Force Base for the airport through 2031. The lease extension was confirmed by Eglin officials.

“The rumor is erroneous,” said Bob Arnold, chairman of Eglin’s Mission Enhancement Committee. “Eglin air operations will increase in the future with the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter. However, there are no ongoing studies or plans to cut back or halt scheduled commercial air service at Okaloosa Regional Airport.

“Quite the contrary, Eglin continues to support efforts for bigger planes and better service. The airport benefits DoD and the entire community. A true win-win.”

Far from closing down, the airport has several expansion projects either under construction or in the planning process.

The airport is currently in the middle of a 16-month, $14 million expansion that will add a new building for vehicle rentals. A $12 million expansion to the terminal building is in the planning stages.
Marta Rose, senior vice president of marketing for the Panama City Beach chamber, said the information came from Panama City attorney William Harrison of Harrison, Rivard & Bennett, who spoke at a Realtor meeting last week.

The chamber forwarded an e-mail it received from the Bay County Association of Realtors to its members without checking its authenticity.

“It is surprising they would send this out in this light-hearted manner,” said Ted Corcoran, president of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Harrison told the Daily News on Monday he has never met with Okaloosa Regional Airport or Eglin officials and that he has never seen any paperwork that says the Air Force plans to close the airport. He said it closing in 2010 was his own prediction and not a statement of fact.

He believes the increased missions Eglin intends to fly with the arrival of the Joint Strike Fighter will be too frequent to allow a commercial airport to run, and he uses the lease between the Air Force and the county as part of his argument.

“You’ve kind of got to connect the dots here, and that’s what I was doing,” Harrison said.

Harrison said the lease allows the Air Force to cancel it at any time as long as a 30-day notice is given.

However, the lease actually states that Congress or the president must first declare a state of emergency before the 30-day notice can be issued.

Debi Knight, president of the Panama City chamber, sent an e-mail to other area chambers Monday apologizing for the confusion.

Daily News Staff Writer Dusty Ricketts can be reached at 863-1111, Ext. 1448.

Rumor In Email Of Okaloosa Airport Closing False
FORT WALTON BEACH – In Okaloosa County, a little quote is creating a big controversy.

It comes from a memo emailed to over 900 members of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce…. saying “the Fort Walton Beach airport will close in 2010”.

They have since retracted the statement.. saying it was just a rumor…. but it’s raised some questions.

The e-mail originated with the Bay County Association of Realtors, and somehow it was forwarded to all the members of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Okaloosa County Airport Director Jerry Sealy says “Why would this go out to 940-plus e-mails stating that we’re gonna be closing and we’re not?”

Joe Faguendes, owner of Thrifty Car Rental at the airport says “Obviously it struck a chord with a lot of people here, there’s hundreds of families that depend on this, county employees, vendors, contractors, so it was pretty upsetting.”
The rumor that Okaloosa Regional Airport would be closing reached director Jerry Sealy during a phone call….
Sealy says “Have you heard what they’ve been saying down in Panama City”
What they were saying was that Eglin Air Force Base would shut the airport down by 2010.
Sealy says “First of all, they never contacted us. Second of all, they never contacted Eglin…….the information was totally fallacious and false…There was no grounds for that kind of a statement to be made”
The statement was made in an e-mail that contained talking points for supporters of the proposed Bay County International Airport.
Joe Faguendes says “I think to use that kind of persuasion to get people on your side is the wrong way to do it”
Sealy says, for the record, the airport is planning a 12 million dollar expansion, and Eglin has approved the plans…..we’re gonna be here for the long run”
Business leaders say rumors like this are certainly detrimental to attracting new business to the area.
At the the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, no one was available for comment.
Last Updated: Thursday, January 17 2008, 05:08 AM