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Paulding wants passenger service at Silver Comet Field

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Officials at the new Paulding County airport are ramping up efforts to develop the property and lure some sort of commercial service, announcing a new partnership Friday with Propeller Investments.

Meanwhile, Richard B. Russell Regional Airport manager Mike Mathews contends that efforts to the enhance Rome’s airport would be better focused on developing the complex as a maintenance and repair type facility.

Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport, less than 30 miles northwest of Atlanta and owned by Paulding County, has been renamed Silver Comet Field at Paulding N.W. Atlanta. Propeller Investments has been brought onboard to lure a commercial carrier to develop passenger service to the airport.

John Gallagher, a spokesman for Propeller Investments, said the company expects to be able to reveal details of proposed commercial service by the end of the year. He said the company is talking to a number of carriers including some already in the Atlanta market and some that are not. “What markets get served will be determined by the airlines,” Gallagher said.

Rome has not had regularly scheduled commercial service at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport for more than 30 years. “I would love to have passenger service here. If somebody would come knock on my door I’d definitely open it up,” Mathews said.

Mathews said he has been aware of Paulding’s interest in commercial service for several months. “I know they have been working hard to get the proper paperwork done,” Mathews said.

What Mathews can see on the horizon for Rome is the development of a repair station. “Some of the G4s, the Gulfstreams, the Falcons, more of the high end corporate jets, they’re old and they fly in are gutted out, get a new paint job on them, redo the whole interior,” Mathews said. “I see some thing like that coming here especially if we extend that runway.”

A 1,000-foot extension of the primary north-south runway is on the list of special purpose, local option sales tax projects, which will be voted on next month.

“It’s not going to be a nuisance on the whole community because there’s not going to be a whole lot of noise. They come in, they stay for a couple of months, and they leave. That’s where I see this airport evolving.”

The airport in Paulding County was opened in 2008. “Our partnership with Propeller and our plans to bring commercial service to Silver Comet are a cornerstone of our economic development agenda and our plan to stem the tide of 70 percent of our residents leaving the county each day for work,” said County Commission Chairman David Austin.

Propeller also has an option on 60 adjacent acres to be used for aviation based economic development in keeping with the County’s Aerospace Alliance.

The Rome airport has a little more than 450 acres of property suitable for economic development purposes, including two tracts in excess of 100 acres, which is considered to be critical to attracting some industrial prospects. One of the tracts is 143 acres on the Old Dalton Rd. side of the property while the western side of the airport, closer o U.S. 27 has a 114-acre tract Mathews considers to be a prime property.

Rome News-Tribune Associate Editor Doug Walker contributed to his report.