Concerns over airport leadership

By: Gina Esposito Email
By: Gina Esposito Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. There are new discussions about whether Mesa County and the City of Grand Junction should take over at the Grand Junction Regional Airport. Concerns about a federal investigation into alleged fraud at the airport have some questioning the leadership.

Grand Junction Mayor Sam Susuras said, "We've had one citizen come to council on a Wednesday night and make that request, but we have not even addressed it." Susuras, who's a member of the Airport Authority Board, said the City has no plans to take over.

Susuras said, "I think knowing the constituents in Grand Junction, they do not like government owning businesses. I think that we would probably have a lot of complaints from the public in taking over the business like that."

Denny Granum, the chair of the Airport Authority Board, said no official discussions have taken place. He said, "We get no money from the city or the county and we're self sufficient, and to me it doesn't make any sense at all. That's my personal opinion and certainly not one of the boards."

The FBI and U.S. Department of Transportation have sealed their investigation into the airport after raiding administrative offices last month. It's left local officials in the dark. "It's frustrating right now because we do have a lot of issues coming forward, but this is a great airport," said Susuras.

Under law, all the county can do is appoint and remove board members. Mesa County Commissioner, Steven Acquafresca, said, "At this time, we don't have evidence that the basic structure of the Airport Authority is a problem, but that could change as more information becomes available."

Mesa County Commissioners said they're waiting for the results of the Federal investigation and the Airport Authorities own internal investigation. "We don't want any of these side conversations going on to effect basic air service in and out of Grand Junction Regional Airport," said Acquafresca.

Granum said, "...but the airport authority is still functioning as it always has and is going to continue to function and we'll wait until the result of the investigation."

While Susuras said, "This board is determined to keep this airport moving forward and not let it go backwards."

Both the City and the County said they plan to meet with the airport authority more often now that they're doing an internal investigation. It's not uncommon for city and county governments to take over local airports. The Montrose Regional Airport is already owned by Montrose County and the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport has been owned by it's local government since 1956.

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