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Sen. Bill Nelson to Hold Press Conference at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Thursday, March 28, 2013

Officials want to find ways to avert local airport tower closings

 

Eds., reporters note:  Sen. Nelson will meet with Lakeland Linder Regional Airport’s director and air-traffic controllers tomorrow at 2 p.m. to discuss possibilities for offsetting the FAA’s closing the tower there and those in other Florida cities.  The meeting is open to media.  The airport tower is located at 3900 Don Emerson Dr.  

A local contact for Nelson is Celeste Brown 407-506-6057.


LAKELAND  (March 27, 2013) - U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Thursday Congress could avoid the Federal Aviation Administration shuttering of 149 airport towers in Florida and other states by targeting a few projects spread throughout the federal government and deemed by some to be unnecessary, duplicative or wasteful.

In a move one lawmaker likened to “removing stop lights and stop signs from our roads," the FAA has announced it’s closing the towers - 14 of them in Florida – to comply with a mandated across-the-board budget cut at all federal agencies.  The tower closings will take place over four weeks starting April 7. “Congress can’t find the estimated $10 million it would take to keep the towers open in Florida, yet the government’s still able to pay for a lot of questionable stuff,” said Nelson, citing Sen. Tom Coburn's annual slam-book on the government wasting taxpayers’ money. 

A list compiled for 2011 by the Oklahoma Republican included projects, like, some $10 million for a remake of Sesame Street for Pakistan; or, on Coburn’s 2012 list, $24 million in administrative costs the government incurs to manage contracts for items no one buys anymore, like, typewriters. “Right now, I’d rather have the money to spend to on keeping our airport towers open,” Nelson said.  “Look, these regional airports serve not only business and commerce, but also law enforcement, air ambulances, and search and rescue operations.

“These aren’t low-priority operations,” the Florida Democrat said.

Nelson will discuss possible ways of keeping the towers open during a visit Thursday with area officials, including Lakeland Linder Regional Airport Director Gene Conrad.  Linder Airport’s tower is among those slated to be closed unless officials can find some $700,000, which is what the airport estimates the FAA pays a private company to staff it with seven workers each year.

Coincidentally, Coburn’s 2012 list identifies one project that cost taxpayers that amount: the Pentagon is paying $700,000 to several companies to find a new way to make beef jerky.

When the airport cuts were announced earlier this month, the FAA at first proposed closing 189 air-traffic-control towers as part of its plan to cut $637 million under sequestration.  The agency said it would keep open any towers if doing so would be in the country’s interest.  It then said it would close 149 towers.

Besides Lakeland, towers are being shut at Naples Municipal, Boca Raton, New Smyrna Beach Municipal, Page Field in Fort Myers, North Perry in Hollywood, Leesburg International, Ocala International-Jim Taylor Field, Ormond Beach Municipal, Punta Gorda, Northeast Florida Regional in St. Augustine, Albert Whitted in St. Petersburg, Witham Field in Stuart and Space Coast Regional in Titusville.

Airport leaders in Punta Gorda, Naples and some of those other cities are threatening to sue to block the FAA’s action.  Some of the cities also are considering trying to make up the costs themselves, no small task given their own strained budgets.  Lakeland reportedly has received bids ranging from $365,000 to $376,000 a year.

 

 

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LAKELAND MUSIC SERIES FEATURES TWO LOCAL TRIOS THE BRIAN SUTHERLAND TRIO AND THE MATTHEW WENGERD TRIO WILL PLAY IN MUNN PARK

LAKELAND, FL (March 12, 2013) – The March 22, 2013 Music Series will feature two local music trios as part of a music showcase that will take place in downtown Lakeland’s historic Munn Park.  This FREE event is from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.  The Brian Sutherland Trio and the Mathew Wengerd Trio will fill the park with their own brand of musical magic. 
 
The Brian Sutherland Trio will open the show with their eclectic blend of musical styling.  Sutherland is a singer, songwriter who will easily switch from cello to guitar as he plays his own version of folk, pop, acoustic rock.  He is joined by band mates Zach Rogers and singer Adrienne Kneebone.  This group of Florida Southern graduates makes up a sound that audiences have struggled to categorize.  Their blend of styles and freedom to improvise places them in more than one genre.  Covering the great artists like Nat King Cole and George Gershwin, all the way to modern day crooners Jason Mraz and Michael Buble.
 
Mathew Wengerd completed his graduate studies in Jazz Performance at the University of South Florida. As a performer and composer, Wengerd has worked with various groups throughout Central Florida, including the Mars’ Trio, Free Time Jazz, and the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and with Tampa-based pianist Daniel Joiner. His current trio of jazz performers has a new catalogue of easily recognizable pop music arranged with reharmonization, paraphrasing, and composition, so that it fully represents the melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic structure of jazz. As grounds for sonic experimentation, the trio is glued together through Wengerd’s double bass to suit the requirements of the music. Think of iconic music and radio hits completely redone by a jazz trio.

The music series will take place in downtown Lakeland’s Munn Park located at 201 E Main St.  The event is FREE to the public and families are encouraged to attend. There will be food and drink vendors on site so bring a blanket and enjoy the beautiful setting of historic Munn Park with the smooth sounds of the Brian Sutherland Trio and the Matthew Wengerd Trio.
Music on the Promenade is proudly sponsored by the City of Lakeland.  Parking is available at the Main Street Parking Garage.  No glass bottles within the park please.  For more information regarding the series, contact Kevin Cook at 863/834-6264.

 

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LAKELAND LINDER REGIONAL AIRPORT’S TOWER ON LIST TO BE PHASED OUT

LAKELAND LINDER REGIONAL AIRPORT’S TOWER ON LIST TO BE PHASED OUT

LAKELAND, FL (March 22, 2013) -- Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is on the list of 149 federal contract air traffic control towers that are scheduled to have federal funding phased out starting April 7, 2013 as part of the federal budget sequestration. Gene Conrad, Director of Lakeland Linder Regional Airport said, “We are very disappointed in the FAA’s decision to discontinue funding for the Lakeland Linder Regional Airport federal contract tower.  Safety is paramount and our operations continue to increase.  We are exploring options to maintain air traffic control services at Lakeland Airport.” 

 

“We did receive confirmation today that the FAA will be sending a full contingent of air traffic controllers to Lakeland Linder Regional Airport to operate the air traffic control tower during the annual Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-In and Expo April 9 – 14th,” said Conrad.   “This is a reimbursable agreement with the FAA and the Sun ‘n Fun Board unanimously agreed to stand behind the financial commitment.  We are currently working with our state and local stakeholders to help cover those costs.”

 

In March, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed to close 189 contract air traffic control towers as part of its plan to meet the $637 million in cuts required under budget sequestration and announced that it would consider keeping open any of these towers if doing so would be in the national interest.  

The national interest considerations included:

·         Significant threats to national security as determined by the FAA in consultation with the Department of Defense or the Department of Homeland Security;

·         Significant, adverse economic impact that is beyond the impact on a local community;

·         Significant impact on multi-state transportation, communication or banking/financial networks;

·         The extent to which an airport currently served by a contract tower is a critical diversionary airport to a large hub.  

The Federal Department of Transportation consulted with the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, and conducted operational assessments of each potential tower closure on the national air transportation system. As a result, 24 federal contract towers will remain open because closing them would have a negative impact on the national interest.  The FAA will begin a four-week phased out budget process that will affect 149 federal contract towers beginning on April 7th and Lakeland Linder Regional Airport is on that list. 

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FAA Contract Tower Closure List

FAA Contract Towers Remaining Open

FAA Contract Tower Cost Share Sites Remaining Open



CITY OF LAKELAND TO HOST INDOOR TRIATHLON

CITY OF LAKELAND TO HOST INDOOR TRIATHLON

Make the City of Lakeland Parks & Recreation Indoor Triathlon your first indoor triathlon. This fun challenge is perfect for everyone – from seasoned triathletes to first-timers. Race a 20-minute swim, 20-minute bike and a 20-minute run in the controlled environment of the Kelly Recreation and Gandy Pool Complexes.  The Indoor Triathlon will be held on Saturday, April 13th, with check-in at 8:00 am at the Kelly Recreation Complex. 

You set your own pace. Performance is measured by distance covered in each of the three legs. The more distance you cover, the higher your score.

All participants will receive a City of Lakeland Indoor Triathlon T-shirt and a medal. All ages are welcome, but minors must have parental consent at time of registration. Deadline for registration is April 6, 2013. Entry fee is only $20.00 Full details and registration forms can be found at  www.lakelandgov.net. For more information contact the Kelly Recreation Complex at 863-834-3283.