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Jack Brooks Airport receives $16.8M, outlines project & payroll plans

NEDERLAND — The Jack Brooks Regional Airport is one of a number of airports across the U.S. set to receive a portion of the $10 billion in coronavirus relief funds.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, recently announced the allocation to the local airport, which was appropriated by Congress as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act that comes through the U.S. Department of Transportation.

“As Texas reels from the economic destruction caused by the coronavirus outbreak, it’s important our airports have the resources they need to weather the storm,” Cornyn said. “I commend both the Trump Administration and leaders in the Beaumont area who worked to secure these funds during this trying time.”

The original figure of $17.9 million to be given to the local airport has been adjusted by the Federal Aviation Administration and comes to $16.8 million, according to Alex Rupp, airport manager at Jack Brooks Regional Airport.

“We are working on a plan with the FAA,” Rupp said. “The initial part of the plan is to have those funds cover some airport salaries and some airport projects.”

Rupp said there is a list of projects identified through the airport’s Capital Improvement Plan that include runway pavement work, runway markings, drainage improvements on the airfield, plus others.

Some of the funding will be used immediately, he added.

“The FAA is extremely busy right now working with over 3,300 airports across the country receiving some funds outside of the normal annual grant fundings,” Rupp said. “I think every airport right now is very busy trying to figure out the best way to use these funds.”

Jack Brooks Regional Airport is open, and American Airlines is down to two flights a day and on some days, one flight per day.

Rupp said next month it would be at one flight per day. And while flight levels are decreased, there has been good weather that will allow Rupp and crew to get caught up on airfield maintenance.

“We’re excited about the funding,” he said. “We are glad the FAA was able to earmark this amount of money for us as we work on a plan to make efficient use of these funds.”

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said some of the funding going to the airport would be used for payroll for the next three years as well as the anticipated projects.

Payroll, he said, comes to about $1.2 million per year.

In addition, there are rental car agencies and other airline tenants that lease space that are wanting to come back.

Besides the Jack Brooks Airport, Beaumont Municipal Airport and Orange County Airport will each receive $30,000.