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Airport projects underway

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Hanger under construction, other improvements coming

By April Wright, Reporter

 

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A six-unit T-hangar and another multi-use hangar at Twin County Regional Airport are close to completion, as the airport undergoes several construction projects in an effort to become an economic tool for the region.
With a waiting list to rent out hangar space, airport manager David Ritter said the hangars will soon be filled.
Construction of the multi-use hangar began in early May and will be complete in a few weeks. It replaced, in the same location, a 1960s-era hangar that had become a liability for the airport.
This is the second six-unit T-hangar to be constructed at the airport.
Ritter said another T-hangar will be constructed next to the new one in about three years, allowing for about 24 aircraft to be stored at the airport. This number includes a multi-use hangar owned by the Twin County Aviation.
“This gives people options for storage,” said Ritter. “And the more aircraft we have here, the more it means in sales and taxes.”
The airport averages about $12,000 to $14,000 in fuel sales each year. However, that number is expected to double with the construction of the hangars.
The airport also generates about $7,000 in taxes. That is expected to double in the future, he said.
The two new hangar facilities will be filled to capacity by July 1.
After gaining support from localities to submit an application to the Virginia Department of Aviation, the commission is hoping a new terminal building can be constructed in the winter, said Ritter.
If the project is approved, the state would provide 71 percent of funding, and the local share would be 29 percent.
The new terminal building will include a passenger lounge, a conference lounge with up-to-date technology and a room for pilot planning and weather services. The facility would be about 4,000-square-feet and will be constructed next to the new multi-use hangar.
With the Wildwood Commerce Park, located within a mile from the airport, expected to bring new companies to the area, the airport and terminal building will give executives their first impression of the area, Ritter said.
The terminal building isn’t a direct moneymaker for the localities, he said, but it may be a factor in enticing companies to establish a facility in the area because of that first impression.
“Due to the condition of the existing building, it has become a liability to use the facility,” airport commission chair Tom Jones recently told Galax City Council, noting that the terminal was built in the 1960s. “We had to acquire a trailer to house our airport manager in this temporary facility.”
With a loan package developed by the Virginia Resource Authority that requires local matches from the city and counties, Galax has committed a third of the debt service for airport projects. The debt service is expected to begin in 2013.
A security fence is being constructed at a cost of $117,000, with a required local match of $20,000 divided equally among Galax and Carroll and Grayson counties. Each locality would provide $6,667.
About 60 percent of the airport will be enclosed with a chain-link fence. T-hangar site development, at a cost of $665,000, required the city to pay $44,445. The commercial T-hangar building, at a cost of $200,000, will require the city to pay $66,667.
Also, the airport is in Phase III of constructing a chain-link fence. It will be complete after the terminal building is constructed.
“Not many people realize the people that we have fly in and out of here,” said Ritter. “AEP, law enforcement and Angel Flights come in and out of this airport.”
(Angel Flights donate time and money to transport patients to out-of-area hospitals for treatment.)
Bids will be opened July 6 at 11 a.m. at Twin County Airport for the construction of the new terminal.
A prebid conference was held Tuesday at the airport conference room. According to a recent advertisement in The Roanoke Times announcing the conference, the airport commission intends to award the entire scope of work to the chosen bidder, however, the award is contingent upon the availability of federal and state funds.

For more information about the airport, visit twincountyairport.org. The airport also has an Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter, which anyone of any age can join. It’s especially beneficial for youth. For more information about the chapter, call 733-3206.