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Forced To Fly?

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Government and public education leaders throughout the Brazos Valley are considering a bold move to help prop us a slumping Easterwood Airport, a county-wide mandate requiring local governments to use Easterwood for business travel.

"This has to be something that we all come into agreement with. We fine tune it so we are all happy with and then we make it a community-wide project," said Ernie Wentercek, Mayor for the City of Bryan.

"Flying out of Easterwood makes more sense economically, it makes more sense from a time saving and time management viewpoint and its not that much more expensive," said Ron Gay of the College Station City Council.

The Intergovernmental Committee consisting of representatives from the twin cities, both school districts, Texas A&M and the county met today to discuss the issue.

Even though Easterwood is the most convenient option, many residents drive to Houston or Austin because ticket prices are usually lower, but according to Gay, the savings are minimal and flying out of Easterwood would not cost taxpayers.

"First of all it's virtually no cost to the taxpayer, no extra cost, and second it encourages ridership at the airport," said Gay.

Although the mayor of Bryan is open to the idea of a mandate, he says tax payers would have to be considered first.

"If it is the cheapest mode of transportation for the tax payers dollar to fly out of Easterwood, then we would have a policy requiring the employee to do that," said Wentrcek.

All in attendance agree having a successful airport is vital for the community's economic health and backers of the mandate say government should take the first step of support.

"The city should be leading the effort to encourage ridership at the airport," said Gay.

The research Valley Partnership will be working on a draft of a mandate, but if and when the mandate is implemented is still up in the air.