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OBPA’S $10 MILLION AIRPORT EXPANSION

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority is aggressively moving ahead with plans to expand Ogdensburg International Airport in hopes of attracting larger air carriers and more passengers.

Before anybody starts pitting airports in Massena and Ogdensburg against each other, they should realize that the expansion could be a tremendous economic booster for the entire region, not just Ogdensburg. It would be tragic if the effort got bogged down by provincial interests.

OBPA officials are hoping that being able to accommodate larger airplanes will mean more passengers flying out of Ogdensburg, namely Canadians who are flocking en masse to U.S. airports to take advantage of lower airfares. A longer runway and expanded terminal will translate to an additional 40,000 passengers a year, according to OBPA.

That number might at first seem high, but not if you consider that Cape Air reported a record 1,047 passengers flying out of Ogdensburg in July alone on the airline’s nine-seater Cessnas.

If we can get an additional carrier with larger planes offering direct flights from Ogdensburg to warmer climates, I think that number is absolutely realistic, especially if OBPA markets the airport in the Ottawa, Ontario, area.

City, St. Lawrence County and state officials should help OBPA in any way they can to make the expansion happen.

THE COUNTY IDA’S POWER PUSH

The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority isn’t the only agency looking north to revitalize the region’s economy. The county Industrial Development Agency is marketing the region to Ontario businesses by touting the benefits of low-cost electricity through New York Power Authority programs and the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency.

The agency can offer its 20 megawatts of power for half of what it currently costs in Canada, and Ontario power prices are expected to rise even higher in the next few years. That gives us an enormous advantage to expand on efforts over the last decade to lure Canadian businesses looking to set up shop in the States.

It would be wonderful if the county’s various economic development agencies could pool their efforts with the IDA to strengthen the agency’s Canadian marketing effort.

HELP THE MORRISTOWN LIBRARY

We reported a few weeks back that the Morristown Public Library, like many others across the county, is suffering under the strain of municipal budget cuts. As a result, library trustees have decided to request an increase in its levy through a school ballot referendum.

Once the story hit the paper, Librarian Bridget Whalen-Nevin told me she started receiving angry phone calls from some residents who believe that somehow the library was going to end up taxing them to death. Obviously people have a hard time understanding how little they are being asked to pay for a hugely important service.

Morristown residents are already supporting the library through their school tax bills. Tacking another $5 on top of the $10 or so the owner of a $100,000 house already pays to support its operation is not going to break anybody’s bank, and is a small price to pay for what the library offers to the community.

Morristown’s library is incredibly important to the community. It provides access to educational materials for everyone, regardless of income or age. It provides access to technology for people who can’t afford their own computer and Internet connection. It provides research materials for people who want to know about our history. It preserves that history for future generations. I think all that is worth an extra $5 if you own a $100,000 home, or about $2.50 if you have a $50,000 home.

It’s easy to take our public libraries for granted, because they are there when we need them. But without funding, public libraries — the informational heart and historical record of our communities — go away. Don’t take your library for granted, Morristown. Please support it in its time of need.

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