$100K Grant To Help Build Regional Airport’s Drone Center

SALISBURY – A $100,000 grant is expected to help develop a drone facility at the Salisbury Regional Airport.

Last week, Airport Manager Dawn Veatch came before the Wicomico County Council in a work session to request an amendment to the fiscal year 2019 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) in the amount of $100,000 to accept an Economic Development Assistance Fund Grant from the Maryland Department of Commerce.

The money will be used to construct a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center for Innovation at the airport.

“In the CIP for FY 2019, we made the assumption that we had sufficient funding to finalize this project, but it was determined that we needed additional funding,” Veatch wrote in a memo. “The State awarded the County $100,000 in FY 2020 with no matching requirement. This amount should be sufficient to finish the UAS Center for Innovation in its entirety, with the previous funding already received.”

Assistant Director of Administration Weston Young told the council the money could be used to purchase equipment and furnishings in the drone hanger.

“It can also be used toward construction,” he said. “So if we have any change orders or things that pop up that could increase the cost we can utilize this money as well.”

Council President John Cannon questioned why the council should have to amend last year’s CIP.

“I thought when you vote on and approve the new CIP, that supersedes the prior CIP,” he said. “I thought we would just amend the current CIP to add this.”

Young said that could be done.

“We could, it’s just not mentioned in the fiscal year 2020-2024 CIP …,” he said. “I think for fiscal year 2020, we add a new sheet showing this project.”

With no further questions, the council agreed to hold a public hearing on the CIP amendment at its next meeting in August.

“I think amending the current FY 2020-2024 CIP is the way to go,” Young said. “We’re grateful that the state has looked upon this project positively from an economic development standpoint.”

Cannon agreed.

“It’s a good thing,” he said.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.