Re­gional air­port se­cures grant to ac­quire equip­ment.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY SAM GALSKI STAFF WRITER Con­tact the writer: sgAl­[email protected] stAn­dArd­speAker.com; 570501-3586

Hazleton Re­gional Air­port se­cured a $112,500 state grant on Thurs­day for buy­ing main­te­nance equip­ment for the air­field, state and lo­cal of­fi­cials said.

The grant rep­re­sents the lat­est in a series of de­vel­op­ments at the air­port that in­cludes ex­pan­sion of a run­way safety area and con­struc­tion of a cell tower that will gen­er­ate rev­enue for the fa­cil­ity, said Do­minic Yan­nuzzi, a con­sult­ing en­gi­neer for the city.

City of­fi­cials haven’t de­cided on the type of equip­ment the city will buy with the grant, with of­fi­cials look­ing at prices, he said.

“We haven’t fi­nal­ized the ex­act items yet,” he said. “We’re get­ting es­ti­mates now on equip­ment so we’ll know by early next year.”

Hazleton Re­gional was the lone Luzerne County air­port to re­ceive part of $6 mil­lion in state grants that were awarded for air­port im­prove­ments in Penn­syl­va­nia, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease is­sued by Gov. Tom Wolf ’s of­fice. The money comes from the state’s tax on jet fuel and money from Penn­syl­va­nia’s Mul­ti­modal fund, with the lat­ter cre­ated for fund­ing trans­porta­tion safety projects.

Air­ports in Car­bon and Schuylkill coun­ties also se­cured grants, with a $995,250 al­lo­ca­tion awarded to Jake Arner Memo­rial Air­port in Car­bon County for ren­o­vat­ing an avi­a­tion gas and jet fuel fa­cil­ity and $225,000 for an air­craft fu­el­ing truck at Schuylkill County’s Joe Zer­bey Air­port.

Hazleton Re­gional, mean­while, con­tin­ues op­er­at­ing as a “self-suf­fi­cient” air­port, Yan­nuzzi said.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to main­tain the air­port and make im­prove­ments as fund­ing al­lows,” Yan­nuzzi said.

Of­fi­cials re­cently com­pleted con­struc­tion of a 101-foot safety zone at the eastern end of the air­port prop­erty that ex­tends the run­way to 5,001 feet, Yan­nuzzi said.

The ex­ten­sion makes for safer con­di­tions for larger air­craft and helps with in­sur­ance rat­ings, he said.

The city of Hazleton owns six of 16 hangars at the air­port, with most filled to ca­pac­ity, Yan­nuzzi said. Some space is avail­able in the hangars for “a few smaller air­craft,” he said. Le­high Val­ley Hospi­tal’s Mede­vac air am­bu­lance and an air­craft main­te­nance firm called Black Rock Air­craft Main­te­nance and Avion­ics lease hangar space, Yan­nuzzi said.

Con­struc­tion of a Ver­i­zon cell tower at the north­ern part of the air­port was com­pleted last year while a $15 mil­lion state tran­sit project will bring a fa­cil­ity for stor­ing Hazleton Pub­lic Tran­sit’s bus fleet to the air­port land, Yan­nuzzi said.

Now that city of­fi­cials know the amount of the lat­est air­port grant, Mayor Jeff Cusat said that ad­min­is­tra­tors will eval­u­ate needs.

“We have a lot of needs up there with plow equip­ment, lawn mow­ers and gen­eral main­te­nance,” Cusat said. “We can start look­ing for pric­ing and try and pri­or­i­tize and uti­lize the money ac­cord­ingly.”

State reps. Ger­ald Mullery, Tarah Toohil and State Sen. John Yu­dichak an­nounced the grant Thurs­day.

STAN­DARD-SPEAKER FiLE

A $112,500 state grant se­cured by Hazleton Re­gional Air­port will be used to buy equip­ment re­quired for the air­field.

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