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Dash of Pepper

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An airport to where?
The Gazette Staff

The John Murtha Johnstown Cambria County Airport, near Johnstown, Pennsylvania, has a $7 million air traffic control tower, a $14 million hangar, an $18 million runway that can land any plane in America.
It handles three commercial flights a day. The provider is United Airlines, via its partner, Colgan Air.
On weekdays, the SAAB aircraft arrives daily from Washington D.C. at 9:27 a.m., 2:13 p.m., and 6:32 p.m. The aircraft departs, three times daily, for Washington D.C. at 9:46 a.m., 2:35 p.m., and 6:42 p.m.
According to reports, the aircraft often contains less than a dozen passengers. The corridors of the airport are often deserted however personnel are employed to do the security checks on the few passengers and baggage that actually show up. An on-site café provides a Sunday brunch that is popular with the surrounding populace. A car rental company will send a representative out to the facility with the keys if you want to rent a car. The facility also contains a conference room that will hold up to 50 people with everything you need to hold a meeting. The website slogan is "Your Gateway to the World."
Congressman Murtha also pushed for the Pentagon to install a state-of-the-art radar surveillance system to spot weather systems more than 100 miles away. But the $8.6 million radar tower has not been used since it was completed in 2004.
The National Guard Bureau says that this kind of radar is not part of its plans or priorities, though the Pennsylvania-based unit argues that the radar is a perfect complement to its air traffic control unit's mission. The Guard has been paying roughly $1,500 a month to keep the unmanned radar spinning and says it hopes to get staff in the future for the facility. That is at least $72,000 spent in four years for this radar to spin, doing absolutely nothing. Murtha's office has said the facility could be a back up if the airport at Pittsburgh was somehow put out of service.
This is all testimony to the power of Congress and the extent to which the earmark process is ingrained in that institution. Our own representative, Congressman Jeb Hensarling, is in the forefront of the battle against Congressional pork spending, which must be a daunting task.
Hensarling was recently selected as one of the top five negotiators in the House of Representatives on the federal budget. I wish him luck during this time of soaring federal spending and debt.


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