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Toomey called out for not helping airport

Lycoming County commissioners on Tuesday blasted a federal lawmaker for failing to back local efforts toward commercial air service.

Commissioners Tony Mussare and Scott Metzger at their weekly meeting noted their utter disappointment that U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Zionsville, is refusing a letter of support to provide more funding for the Williamsport Regional Airport.

The airport is losing its American Airline flights to Philadelphia later this month, leaving the local area with no commercial air service.

Commissioners noted support from Toomey would certainly help in the bid to keep and advance service locally.

“We were told he (Toomey) has philosophical differences,” Metzger said. “We were disappointed to hear that from his aide.”

The airport, Metzger noted, serves about 500,000 people and federal support could go a long way toward providing flights into the future.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said it’s likely that Toomey simply doesn’t believe the federal government should be involved with the airport’s business.

He noted the importance of the airport to the community.

American Airlines launched commercial service from the airport to Charlotte, N.C. last August before ending it in the fall.

Meanwhile, the last Philadelphia flight is scheduled for later this month.

Mirabito noted that U.S. Sen. Robert Casey, D-Scranton, will provide support.

In another matter, commissioners responded to criticism about the purchase of a new district judge’s office.

Judge William Solomon is expected to move into the new location in Old Lycoming Township this summer.

Todd Lauer, of Jersey Shore, questioned the location of the office in a flood area, resulting in the need to purchase and erect a flood wall there.

“Who’s going to be held accountable for this?” he asked.

Commissioner Tony Mussare told Lauer, “I wish we could say we never make mistakes.”

He added he was certainly willing to take full responsibility.

Commissioner Rick Mirabito said they were restricted as to where they could locate a district judge’s office.

“We had a hard time finding a location,” he said. “I think we knew it was a flood area.”

Metzger agreed that the decision, made before he took office as a commissioner in 2020, is an unfortunate one.

He noted the site for the building has experienced just one flood in the past 100 years.

The wall being built to protect the building is not expected to put the project over budget, he added.

“The key is to make sure it doesn’t go above budget,” he said.

Later in the meeting, it was revealed that two firms have submitted bids for the flood wall work. The lower bid is from TurnKey Construction, Inc. for $189,500.

Commissioners had estimated the flood wall work at $180,000.

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