Law preserves airport safety
May 15, 2013
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  • It’s good news for Columbus and scores of other U.S. communities that swift congressional action will allow air-control towers at 149 small airports to remain open through at least September.

    The Reducing Flight Delays Act of 2013, which granted the Federal Aviation Administration the budget flexibility it said it lacked to avoid staffing cuts and flight delays at major airports, also will allow the FAA to keep staffing the small-airport control towers for several more months.

    Ohio State University’s Don Scott Field and Bolton Field, managed by the Columbus Regional Airport Authority, were among the scores of airports whose control towers had faced FAA staffing cuts blamed on budget sequestration.

    It seems obvious by now that President Obama, in his drive to make sequestration cuts hurt and blame Republicans for them, overplayed his hand after cynically cutting small-ticket but high-visibility items such as White House tours (which remain halted despite summer vacations looming).

    But airports mean business and jobs. A small airport such as Don Scott generates millions of dollars in economic impact for the community each year, supports good private-sector jobs and is home to important operations such as an air-ambulance service. The majority of the FAA’s budget comes directly from taxes and fees levied on those who use airports. Those users and the communities served by these airports have every right to expect the FAA to make cuts only after careful, serious review, not out of what seem to be deliberately hurtful, political motives.

    Spire shows nation’s resilience in face of 9/11

    Inspiring barely manages to describe the emotion and pride that resonate from the topping of the new One World Trade Center last week with a silvery spire, scraping the sky at a symbolic 1,776 feet high.

    This building is a reply to the terrorists who flew planes into the World Trade Center towers on Sept. 11, 2001. The spire’s height, paying homage to the nation’s founding in 1776, makes it the nation’s tallest tower, but also sends a strong message: The American spirit isn’t something that can be knocked down.

    The spire, standing 408 feet tall and weighing 758 tons, was lowered onto the building on Friday as construction workers and visitors on the ground stopped to watch. Among them was Lee Ielpi, a retired New York City firefighter who helped carry the body of his son, Jonathan, 29, a Queens firefighter and father of two, from the twisted rubble of the towers.

    Watching from the nearby 9/11 Tribute Center, which he co-founded, Ielpi said, “I’m looking forward to the day when the cranes come down and they light the spire at night.”

    The light of the giant, LED-powered beacon will be visible from miles away, a symbol of “ optimism in the aftermath of tragedy,” architect Daniel Libeskind said when his winning master plans for the site were unveiled a decade ago.

    If Libeskind’s name sounds familiar to central Ohioans, it’s because he’s been in the news here recently: His design was chosen last week for a $2 million Ohio Statehouse Holocaust memorial.