Thursday, January 28, 2016

How the airport was won.

JJ is providing a history lesson this week on how the Jackson municipal airport came to be.  Some old minutes revealed some interesting nuggets of information.  Jackson nearly lost the Air National Guard units to other airports as Hawkins Field was becoming obsolete.  There was wrangling with the Pentagon over how much money would be contributed by the military.  Then there was the matter of the $3 million bond issue.  The Jackson Airport Commissison embarked on an advertising campaign to promote the bond referendum.  It is not known if Frontier Strategies got the advertising contract or if Butler Snow was the bond counsel. Some highlights of the minutes are:



*Commission discussed producing a one-minute radio commercial that would promote a bond issue funding airport construction.  The proposed script state:


A modern jet-age airport is essential to the growth and development of Jackson as a major city, the commercial and administrative nerve center of Mississippi.

Jackson can obtain federal assistance, CAA money, to help build a modern airport... but ONLY if Jackson puts up a like amount.  To meet this requirement, the Airport Commission is, in effect, asking the City of Jackson to LEND $3 million for this purpose.  The $3 million can be obtained only through a bond issue.. and this bond issue is what you will vote for on Augusts 26.

This bond will be repaid with funds received from the sale of the present airport lands, and from the operation of the new jet-age airport to be built in Rankin County.

Even under the most unfavorable economic circumstances, we feel certain that getting the new airport.. and all it means to Jackson's growth.. WILL NOT costs any more than that necessary for maintenance alone at Hawking Field.

If the modern airport is not built now, it will be necessary to spendMUCH MORE than this half-million dollars for maintenance work alone on the present, inadequate, out of date airport.

When you are casting your votes for progress on Tuesday, August 26, be sure to mark your ballot FOR the airport bond issue. (p.2)
 * (August 15, 1957) Air Force denies request for more funds.  The Department of Defense will only pay for  3,000 feet of the proposed 8,000 foot runway. Jackson would have to find funds to build the remainder of the runway.  General Winston Wilson (USAF) stated "he had never agreed to the expenditure of Air Force funds for an entire runway".  He "express surprise" that the airport commission "understood otherwise".  He said the DOD could only provide $3 million as it was a national limitation for all such expenditures. (p.4)  Senator Stennis said Jackson did not have the money to build the extra five thousand feet of runway.

*(June 13, 1957).  The Adjutant General expresses concern that Jackson has not yet purchased the required parcels of land to proceed with the airport project.  He said the planning could not take place until the city executed the long-term lease with the MANG. The Air National Guard had already requested F84F's from the DOD.  Just one problem: Hawkins Field could not handle these planes. The Jackson squadron would have to fly out of Meridian if Jackson did not build a new airport.


F84F. Source: Wikipedia
*(April 22, 1957) Adjutant General says Washington promised $4.5 million for construction of Air National Guard facilities at the new airport. (p.28)

*(August 15, 1957) Commission is told Pentagon will probably move 183rd Tactical Recon Squadron from Hawkins Field to Gulfport if no progress is made.


13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Damn! Don't see anywhere in this where the State of MS GAVE the airport authority or the City of Jackson the airport. Or even the ability to build the airport. Nor did the state pay for the bonds for the airport.

Still looking for the answer to the question about "what the state giveth the state can take away." What did the State 'giveth'?

Anonymous said...


Miss. Code Ann. § 61-5-7
actually 61-5 in its entirity.

Thanks for playing...

Anonymous said...

State gave nothing. Rankin agreed to let Jackson annex the airport in exchange for not annexing a giant swath of land adjacent to Jackson in Rankin County, which they were going to do. Jackson incurred the millions in bonding to build and improve the airport. Rankin didn't pay a dime. Now after it is built and modernized, Rankin wants to take it. Its that simple.

Anonymous said...

Nothing is set forever in stone. Rankin is going to build a waste treatment plant also. Get over it.

Anonymous said...

@ 3:46. You need to spend your allowance better and buy you a new section of the MS Code. Or if all your knowledge comes from Googling, get you a better search engine.

61-5-7 only states that a Municipal Airport Authority has the power of eminent domain.

The 61-5 section is the municipal airport authority law. Yes, the state establishes the fact that a municipality may establish a municipal airport authority and it may establish a municipal airport. But that does not mean that because the state "Allowed" the establishment of an airport the state established the airport.

Read on once you have saved up enough of your allowance. Get down to the 30's sections - where they talk about the ability to create a "joint authority". For your simple mind let me explain. Those sections allow for a municipality to enter into a joint agreement with other entities (counties, other cities, the state, etc.) if they want to. But the terms (see 61-5-33, 35 & 37) define the ability to enter into such arrangement and how. In all cases it requires a JOINT agreement; it does not allow for a takeover.

Exactly what has been reported that the Rankin County real estate developers and the Bond advisors have been pushing for would be such a 'joint agreement' but they have left off the two words - jointly agreed, and an agreement.

Thanks for playing, though. Next time study up before you open up.

Anonymous said...

Of course State law is forever inalterable. Supermajorities. Republican Governor. Don't bother playing, you'll lose.

Anonymous said...

Fascinating stuff.

Thanks for the history lesson Kingfish.

Generals, Powerful Jackson Businessmen . . . Senator Stennis even.
What a great visual . . . I can only imagine these guys in a smoke filled Conference room during late 1950s jackson.

Anonymous said...

....right 9:28. With a cartoon in the corner showing Brian Williams and Kingfish claiming "I was there!"

Anonymous said...

Just look at Josh Harkins list of donors. Then connect the dots as to who is going to end up with all of the legal and engineering work when he wrests control of JMAA.

Anonymous said...

Who on the list of donors are you referring to? Also, is Harkins going to be the new CEO or on the board? NO! If contracts are awarded to any contractors Harkins won't be doing the awarding you idiot. Come up with a better theory than that.

Anonymous said...

No. Harkins is not going to be the CEO. Nor on the board. That would, in fact, be against the law since it would have been created while he was in the legislature.

But - betcha he and his development company will be in a good position with the new board to be able to get the lucrative contracts that come out of the airport if he is able to get his ill-conceived takeover completed.

He will not be doing the awarding, you idiot. He will be doing the receiving.

Anonymous said...

7:01 Do you even know what Harkins does for a living? That is quite a reach. the ends to which some will jump to on this site are staggering. How about addressing the central issue here, should the airport be regionalized? Still nobody has given a cerebral explanation as to why not. What say ye 7:01?

Anonymous said...

2:04 - nobody has given a cerebral explanation as to why the Airport should be taken over by the state, other than the folks in Rankin County want it. They don't like the fact that it is run by a black controlled government that has minority set-asides in its contracting program. They don't like the fact that folks that they don't influence control something today. They don't like the fact that Mississippi doesn't have enough air travelers to bring in more airlines and daily flights.

But all those things that they don't like does not give a reason as to why the airport should be taken over by a board appointed by the Governor when the airport was built and is owned by the City of Jackson. Just because Rankin Countians want control of it doesn't provide a 'cerebral explanation" as to why Harkins' bill has merit.

You ask a good question but it seems to me more basic - why should the airport be regionalized? And also under what authority? If it applies to the Jackson Airport what else should it apply to?

And yes - btw - I do know what Harkins does for a living. Its not quite as much of a jump as many comments on this site, but yes it was still a jump. He develops and manages real estate, mostly in the Lakeland corridor area. The fact that the airport authority just entered into an option to lease several hundred acres for development which he will not participate in makes it at least a little jump.

But I for one don't think that is the reason for his bill. I think it has to do more with certain individual(s) that left employ in the Sillers building and went to another high rise firm a few miles further north. Harkins is just the enabler.

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