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Globe/Gary Crow Workers with APAC, from Tulsa, Okla., work at the Miami Municipal Airport. In addition to Joplin’s new terminal project, several other area airports have projects under way or in the planning stages.

By Melissa Dunson

mdunson@joplinglobe.com

Even Steve Stockam, manager of the Joplin Regional Airport, is surprised by the success of the new Mesa Airlines flights to Kansas City.

Stockam said that since the flights began Aug. 1, most have been almost sold out. He projects that the Joplin airport will record the boarding of more than 900 passengers before the month ends. In August 2005, Stockam said, the airport tallied just over 800 passenger boardings.

“It’s phenomenal,” Stockam said. “We would have been very pleased if we had made 600, but it looks like this month we could do over 900. It’s just turned out so much better than we could have hoped.”

Stockam met Thursday with officials of Crossland Construction Co., the company hired to build the new Joplin terminal. He said the company will begin work on the building right after Labor Day.

During last Monday’s meeting of the Joplin City Council, $119,294 was cut from the original terminal plan, the cost of which ended up being $1.3 million more than first estimated. A structural column change will save $25,525. Prefinished metal ceiling panels will be installed in the canopy, instead of composition ceiling panels, for a savings of $27,321. The airport board’s justification for the modification was that the lower-cost materials would still provide a low-maintenance, attractive ceiling. The final cut was eliminating the planned canopy skylights for a savings of $66,448.

Projects and renovations also are planned at airports throughout the area. None of the following airports transports commercial passengers or freight.

Hugh Robinson Airport, Neosho

An invitation for bids for a new terminal went out last week, said City Manager Jan Blase. The airport has up to $500,000 to spend on the project. Jim Robertson, of the Airport Industrial Development Board, estimates the costs at $350,000 for construction and $100,000 for equipment.

The new terminal will replace the 500-square-foot building constructed in 1965. The new site, with 3,200 square feet, will include a pilots lounge, a conference room with international teleconference capability, an equipment room, bathrooms and offices.

Financing for the project will come from the Missouri Development Finance Board.

The airport has upgraded its fuel system, and it plans to purchase a new fuel truck and to look into companies to build new T-hangars on the site. The airport has around 20 private and city-owned hangars, but airport manager Billy Sallee said they are in bad shape and need to be replaced.

Neosho airport officials’ immediate attention is focused on the future of the industrial business park the airport purchased years ago. “We hope it’s going to bring lots of industry to Neosho,” Sallee said.

Blase said the next step for airport officials is the conceptual development of the park to attract aviation-related industries as well as technology-focused businesses such as call centers and insurance clearinghouses.

“We want to have it filled up,” Blase said. “All of that revenue will go back into the airport.”

Blase said the airport also will be resealing the runway and the surrounding asphalt.

Along with the terminal building and the hangars, the Neosho airport has a 5,000-foot runway and 30 aircraft stationed on site.

Pittsburg (Kan.) Municipal Airport

The top priority for the Pittsburg airport, said city engineer Bruce Remsberg, is wildlife fencing around the terminal and runway to keep deer from wandering onto the property and creating a safety hazard.

Remsberg said the airport has gotten a permit from the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks to put up the 10-foot-high, barbed-wire fencing.

Remsberg said the airport just submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration to get funding for the fencing project, which he estimated will cost more than $1 million.

In three weeks or less, Remsberg said, a reconstruction project on the 4,000-foot runway will wrap up. The project was necessary because the visibility on the original World War II-era runaway was limited in spots. Lighting has been added to the reconstructed runway so planes can land at night on both that runway and the larger, 5,500-foot runway. The project cost was just over $2 million.

Remsberg said money for the runway reconstruction project came from a combination of federal and state grants, general obligation bonds from the city of Pittsburg, and private contributions.

After the wildlife fencing, the next project on the airport’s agenda is building a new taxiway running parallel to the 5,500-foot runway. The taxiway will allow more planes to land and take off.

Remsberg estimated that the project will cost between $1 million and $1.5 million, with 95 percent likely to be covered by FAA money. The rest of the funding would be left to the city and airport.

Besides the two runways, the Pittsburg airport has a 5,000-square-foot terminal building and more than 40 rentable hangars. About 35 aircraft, including seven jets, are based at the airport.

Miami (Okla.) Municipal Airport

Tulsa, Okla.-based construction company APAC is redoing some of the drainage culverts on the Miami airport’s property and widening the entryway to one of the 30 hangars there, half business and half private.

Airport manager Paul Dolph said his next project — redoing a taxiway parallel to the runway — is at least a year away. The projected cost will be $138,000, and the funding will come through money from the state and federal governments.

The governmental funds should cover 90 percent of the cost, leaving the city and airport to pick up the rest. But Dolph hopes the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission may split that 10 percent cost with the city and airport, leaving the local bill at $6,900.

Dolph said the airport’s primary sources of money are jet fuel sales, hangar rentals and renting out agricultural land near the airport.

The Miami airport has a 2,400-square-foot terminal building and a 5,000-foot runway. Dolph said the airport saw 7,200 operators go through the airport last year, and this year’s numbers look similar.

Grove (Okla.) Municipal Airport

One month ago, the Grove airport purchased 33 acres on the west side of the airport to create a commercial and industrial development park.

“We’re looking for any kind of aviation-related industry,” said airport manager Terry Abercrombie.

The airport bought the land for $6,500 an acre, using 95 percent federal money, and 5 percent from the airport and city. The airport’s revenue comes from leasing surrounding land and renting hangars, but Abercrombie said she is excited about the possibility of bringing more industry and more dollars to the airport through the industrial park.

Abercrombie said she is not aware of anyone currently interested in building on the new land.

The airport has a 5,250-foot runway, four parallel taxiways, several instrument approaches and 24 private, rentable hangars. Abercrombie said 60 planes are based at the Grove airport.

Fort Scott (Kan.) Municipal Airport

Kenny Howard, Fort Scott airport manager, attributed the growth his airport has seen in the past several years to a number of factors.

Howard said a Fort Scott printing company just completed a 27,200-square-foot private hangar on airport property. The hangar will be used to fly company personnel to various parts of the country to do on-site training. The airport is leasing the land to the company.

Thanks to a $4,000 grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation, the airport is installing a computer and software that will give live weather updates every minute.

Howard said one of the airport’s biggest draws for planes that previously overlooked Fort Scott as an option is the addition of mechanics in the past two years. A 24-hour fuel store and a jet fuel truck added in April also have attracted new business, Howard said.

“Fort Scott’s fuel sales have gone up 37 percent in the last year,” he said.

The airport has a 3,200-square-foot terminal with a pilots lounge, a 4,400-foot runway with a parallel taxiway and seven hangars, two private and five city-owned. Howard said 18 airplanes and four turboprop planes are based at the airport. About 35 airplanes travel through the airport each week.

Melissa Dunson is the business writer for The Joplin Globe.