Eastern Arizona Courier
By Lillian Boyd
Safford Regional Airport is among 29 in Arizona receiving federal grant money to support operations, personnel, cleaning, sanitation and COVID-19 prevention.
The airport will get $32,000 of the $47 million in American Rescue Plan money coming to the state. Phoenix Sky Harbor International will receive the biggest amount at $19 million.
The grant is the third round of COVID-related funding for the airport, according to the city’s public works director, Lance Henrie.
“I’ll be taking this to council on Jan. 10. We’re required to have the governing body’s approval. Once that’s signed off, there are specific things that money can go toward,” Henrie said.
He applied for the grant in November; Henrie also is the city’s engineer and airport manager.
The first round of funding that Safford Regional Airport received was from a Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act grant for $30,000 in April 2020, which went toward debt service and utilities. Another $13,000 came in June this year from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Henrie said that freed up money in the budget to cover terminal improvements.
“We’re going to try to get reimbursement on an upgrade to the security gates with key fob access readers,” he said. “You never know if something qualifies for reimbursement until your request get approved or denied after paying for it.”
While the $32,000 appears to be a modest sum from the $47 million going to Arizona airports, Henrie says it’s right.
“We get a lot of funds through FAA and ADOT that aren’t COVID-related. We’re in good shape,” Henrie said.
Arizona’s U.S. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly announced the relief recipients Dec. 16. Sinema serves as chair for the Senate Aviation Safety, Operations and Innovation Subcommittee.
“Today’s funds will provide necessary and critical support to strengthen operations and COVID-19 prevention at our airports, keeping Arizonans safe and healthy during their travels,” Sinema said in a press release.
Henrie says Safford Regional Airport is a small aviation airport that doesn’t see a lot of traffic.
“We don’t have a TSA, we don’t see a lot of crowds,” he said. “It’s a small amount, but in retrospect, it’s probably proportional. I’m happy we got what we got.”