We don't need control tower
Gary Schraut's May 9 guest column was very surprising — especially since I, a voting member of Hernando County Aviation Authority, had no opportunity to approve the chairman's public representation of the authority's position on the need for a control tower.
Mr. Schraut's liberal use of "we" implies members of the Aviation Authority support his view, and that's just not true in my case. It is particularly egregious since he has refused to allow the members to debate the issues and I do not believe a single requirement for a control tower has ever been validated in the four years that I have served on the board.
I don't question his professional views on the development of the industrial park and the business contributions to the economy, but I do not share the same appreciation for his knowledge of federal air regulations or his underlying actions in promoting or representing the interests of the Hernando County aviation community.
It is apparent that Mr. Schraut is not a pilot and his views of airport operations are not factual or supported by the 90 airport pilots who have signed a petition against the control tower initiative.
Hernando County is not uncontrolled in the civil sense of the word. Although there is no control tower, the pilots must adhere to specific federal air regulations and guidance contained in the Aeronautical Information Manual when arriving or departing from the airport. There are only 2,000 controlled airports in the U.S., yet every day aircraft (including airlines) operate from many of the other 18,000 uncontrolled airports without problems or any significant safety hazard.
All the controllers do is function as a traffic cop. They sequence the arrival and departures at airports with high-density traffic that need controlling or separation. This doesn't apply to Hernando County!
Every dollar spent to build an unneeded control tower will come from a taxpayer. And, most of the airport leaseholders who have been contributing their money to the airport reserve fund are in fact county residents and heavily burdened taxpayers.
The National Transportation Safety Board database shows there has not been an aircraft fatality at the airport in the past 27 years. In fact, there has been only one accident with serious injuries (lost control on takeoff). None of the 17 accidents in the past 27 years could have been averted or minimized by a control tower. It is infinitely more hazardous to drive to the airport on county roads than it is to fly from the airport without a control tower.
Why do Mr. Schraut and the commissioners refuse to schedule a public hearing on the need for a control tower? There are four unfinished aprons waiting for hangars that would produce revenue instead of consuming critical reserves. Runway and taxiway condition is deteriorating and are much more critical to our daily corporate visitors than a part-time control tower.
Instead of hosting an open and informative debate on the spending of critical public funding, the Hernando Aviation Authority and its chairman have initiated a sole source, noncompetitive $264,000 contract to begin the site planning and design of a unnecessary control tower. I view this as a huge waste of this taxpayer's money with little or no positive contribution to the county's long-term economy.
David P. Lemon, Spring Hill
Grass roots effort could alter GOP
In reference to the May 13 letters to the editor about how the Republican Party members were denied input in the selection of a candidate for our congressional seat, I am of two minds.
The sneaky way in which Sheriff Richard Nugent was able to place himself in an advantageous position seems to be the result of a plan by Republican Party officials to usurp the normal selection process. I say this because I have read no comments from any officials that criticize the plot by U.S. Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and Nugent. Failure of the leadership to respond indicates to me that the current Republican leadership is not interested in the voices of its members. Despite lip service paid to democratic principles, the party just proves itself to be an old guard network.
It seems like it's time for a grass roots movement to reshape the party in the image of the Republican electorate. I am an independent who, more often than not, votes Republican. All of us have the opportunity to register as Republicans before July 26. I hope that many voters will get out and register and make their voices heard in the coming primary. Someone once said something to the effect that a failure to engage in the political process will lead to governance by your inferiors.
John Orlando, Spring Hill
Clamp down on illegal parking
It is beyond me why no one has done anything about all the illegal parking at every shopping center. There are so many who park in the fire lane to hit the ATM or run into the liquor store or even make a quick grocery store run.
Mount cameras (it works for red lights) or better yet have a retired law enforcement officer hand out preprinted tickets with just a tag number written in. How much money would that generate?
I guess no one takes it seriously now, but when a pedestrian is hit then maybe something will be done. A little late, though.
Dennis Towns, Brooksville