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New terminal completed

| Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Connellsville Airport's new terminal will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Thursday.

A groundbreaking for the building took place in March 2005. The terminal was completed in February.

The $2.25 million building is the centerpiece of $6 million in capital improvements.

The terminal, designed by Michael Baker Jr. Inc., of Moon Township, incorporates the old Taylor Craft hangar in its 24,000-square-foot design. Besides housing a lobby and airport offices, the terminal includes a snack bar, facilities for pilots, a conference room and office rental space.

"The terminal is ready to go," said Fred Davis, chairman of the airport authority. "It has better amenities, it's a spacious terminal and is more consistent with the direction we're going with the airport and with the county. It's a really nice blending of the old and the new."

Davis calls the terminal "the latest visible milestone on having a modern airport to serve the needs of Fayette County."

The state Bureau of Aviation and the Federal Aviation Administration Airport Improvement Program funded the project.

The airport has received nearly $5 million in state block grants and capital budget funding for the projects.

In addition to the terminal, sewage lines and a new water system have been installed; stormwater management has been improved; the airfield electrical system has been rehabilitated; the access road, parking lot and aircraft parking apron have been resurfaced; snow-removal equipment has been purchased; and the airport's long-term master plan has been updated.

"With the exception of the new terminal building, many of these projects are not high-profile, but they do represent an excellent foundation necessary for the future growth of the facility," said Sam Cortis, airport manager.

"The airport is an important factor in our economic development," Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink said. "These improvements didn't happen overnight. A lot of people should be given credit, and I trust that the improvements will continue."

The next improvements will focus on the runway.

Cortis said that the runway will ultimately be expanded by 900 feet, to 4,500 feet.

"Runway design is the next phase," Cortis said. "We need to update the runway protection zone and move the gas pipeline."

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