Federal Agencies Hit Middle Georgia Regional Airport With 27 Citations

The Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration have noted 27 citations - including some security concerns - at the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, Macon airport director George Brown said Monday.

Brown gave some examples of the problems Monday and said federal officials are already working with his staff to correct them. But he would not provide a Nov. 29 letter that spells out the citations because, he said, it contains sensitive security information and is not subject to the Georgia Open Records Act. Macon Chief Administrative Officer Regina McDuffie agreed.

City Council members were incensed to learn of the situation, which Brown did not mention until Councilwoman Elaine Lucas asked him about it during discussion of another matter during Monday's Appropriations Committee meeting. Lucas said she had heard of the citations from her husband, state Rep. David Lucas, D-Macon.

The citations revelation came as Brown was seeking council approval for contract changes for work at the airport. But with limited information on the citations and because of other problems with the contracts, which Brown acknowledged were not handled in accordance with city protocol, the committee tabled the contract issue until more information is available.

Brown said none of the citations is serious. He invited council members to a Wednesday afternoon meeting with TSA and FAA officials, representatives from the airport's lone airline, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, and the city's airport consultant.

"By the end of the week almost all of these problems, if not all of them, will go away," Brown said.

Brown said the Nov. 29 letter mentions:

That access to certain portions of the airport is not controlled properly.

There is a lack of security knowledge by airport personnel.

There is a problem with airport runway striping.

Some of the problems date back to May, Brown said. That's when the airport passed security standards it had to meet to regain status as a Category IV airport - a designation that allows airplanes with more than 60 seats to use the airport. The airport lost that designation in January, but it later passed muster with federal regulators.

The airport could lose that designation again if it doesn't address the citations, but Brown said he doesn't think that will happen.

One of the citations deals with a gate that controls access to one of the roads leading into the airport, Brown said. That gate is being automated as part of a larger project, which includes utility lines for private hangars at the airport. Contracts for that project were not reviewed by the city attorney's office or the council, Brown said. One, with a plumber, was based on a standard contract found on the Internet, he said.

Much of the work has already been completed, Brown said.

"So you have already done it and you want us to approve what you have done?" Appropriations Committee Chairman Henry Ficklin said.

"Very, very bad precedent," said Councilman Rick Hutto.

But Brown noted that when the city solicited bids for the construction work, no one responded. So he actively sought a contractor and ended up getting the work done for less than the city had budgeted.

"We were behind schedule," Brown said. "Way behind schedule. ... My task was to get it delivered."

Said Ficklin: "So much done without the proper authorization. ... We're here to make sure that the processes that have been established are carried out."

Information from The Telegraph's archives was used in this report.

Macon Telegraph


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