CASPER, Wyo. (AP) -- Sen. Craig Thomas has scheduled a meeting to discuss ways to keep a federal customs agent at Natrona County International Airport.
The meeting will be held Tuesday at the airport with local and state government officials and Nat Aycox, San Francisco-based area director for field operations of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Two part-time customs agents are stationed in Casper where they clear about 300 flights per year including FedEx service and 19 Canadian-based companies which have business ties to the state.
Recent homeland security changes have prompted the patrol to upgrade part-time agents to full-time.
Because of the changes, the patrol has proposed eliminating the only customs presence in Wyoming or requiring the airport to be responsible for annual costs of $140,000 to maintain one full-time agent.
Thomas, R-Wyo., said he was contacted in September by the airport board about the possibility of losing its customs office.
In early December, he spoke with Under Secretary of Border and Transportation Security Asa Hutchinson and the Office of the Customs Commissioner to express the importance of having customs agents clear incoming and outgoing flights.
He said a loss of customs agents could hurt the state's ability to do business with FedEx and international companies.
''Not only does Casper need a customs presence, but it needs to meet new standards to ensure the integrity of our borders,'' he said Thursday in a release. ''My hope is the community and customs officials will find some common ground to resolve this issue.''