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Editorial: DOT decision catches everyone off guard

March 1, 2012
The Alpena News

Surprised. Confused. Perplexed.

These are just three of the reactions of local officials to the Department of Transportation's decision to have Mayor Matt Waligora as the point person for future dealings despite the fact Alpena County owns and operates the Alpena County Regional Airport.

We share these emotions, though we believe Waligora can handle the responsibility the mayor did get involved earlier this year in talks to find a replacement for Delta Airlines. It's just confusing why the head of the entity that runs the airport, Alpena County Board of Commissioners Chairman Cam Habermehl, isn't that person.

The issue gets murkier because everyone involved has to assess the roles of both the county and the city as a resolution is sought for a new carrier at the airport.

"My problem is where do our obligations begin and where do they end?" Councilman Dave Karschnick said earlier this week. "I see more cost for the city for this, and I'm not really sure how I feel about that. We need good air service, but this has been going on for almost a year, and now all of a sudden the mayor and the city have been thrown right into the middle of something we didn't want to be involved in."

For his part, Habermehl maintains he just wants a successful conclusion.

"I think we are still going to move ahead the same as we were before," Habermehl said during Tuesday's board of commissioners meeting. "We needed one person to be in charge of this to head it up, and I didn't care who it was. The problem still involves the whole county, and I think the entire board is in favor of spending as we would have before."

We know everyone involved has the same goal doing what is right for the airport. The DOT's decision just adds one more layer to deal with, as Waligora will have to relay the message to the county and all communications with the DOT.

Hopefully this chapter will come to a conclusion soon and everyone can move forward in making Alpena an even better place to live.



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