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Terrorist attacks lead to tighter airport security

By By Fredie Carmichael/The Meridian Star
Oct. 2, 2001
Tom Williams was having his vehicle worked on the morning of Sept. 11 when he heard that a passenger jet had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Williams, president of the Meridian Airport Authority, told members of the Meridian Rotary Club on Monday that his job hasn't been the same since. And he doesn't expect it to get better any time soon.
Williams was the guest speaker at the Rotary Club's weekly meeting at the Howard Johnson Inn. He encouraged the local businessmen to patronize the local airport; he also talked about increased security.
Tight security
The Federal Aviation Administration quickly made changes in security requirements after the terrorist attacks. One change is that no unattended vehicles can be within 300 feet of the airport terminal.
But, vehicles can be parked at the vacant Delco-Remy Building about a quarter-mile south of the terminal in the South Industrial Park. Williams said a shuttle system takes passengers to the terminal; the system costs the Meridian Airport Authority $265 a day.
Also, a uniformed law enforcement officer is on duty at the airport to make sure vehicles are not left within the 300-foot area. That costs the airport $240 a day.
Strict searches
Williams said the tightened security also includes a more strict search of passengers.
While most airports around the nation are suffering a big financial blow, Williams said Meridian's loss hasn't been as bad. He said he is projecting a 10 percent decrease in passengers for this month.
With more people getting back to their normal activities, he said he hopes flying will get back to normal too.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail him at fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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