By Ellen Thompson/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
Plans to remodel the Havre City-County Airport terminal received a green light this week from the Montana Aeronautics Board. The local airport board will ask for bids next month and begin the seven-month building project shortly afterward.
The aeronautics board also approved a $10,000 grant and $22,000 loan toward the match needed in order for the airport board to access about $600,000 in federal aviation funds, said Hill County Commissioner and Havre City-County Airport Board member Kathy Bessette.
In its proposal, the board described the terminal as being in "dire" need of help. The carpet and ceiling have been stained by water, and the roof continues to leak in several areas despite ongoing temporary repairs.
The airport board has proposed a $637,000 renovation that will give the building a new roof, energy-efficient windows and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. Plans also include creating a space for meetings and for U.S. Customs and security officers.
Asbestos and mold abatement are also needed.
"It's pretty much a remodel from the ground up," said airport board secretary Lowell Swenson, who is the Havre city clerk and finance director.
The plans for the remodeled terminal include a pitched roof to prevent future leaking and damage, he said. The roof will extend in front and behind the building to create an overhang that will protect passengers and personnel outside the building.
"It'll look a lot nicer," Swenson said. "It'll be dressed up a little."
The board has access to $300,000 in federal nonprimary entitlement funds that have accumulated for the Havre City-County Airport, and will borrow another $362,000 in entitlement funds from four Montana communities that do not plan to use the money this year. Though called a loan, some of the funds will need to be repaid and others won't.
"If the other airport doesn't have any projects going on and they're not going to need the money back," they probably won't ask to be repaid, Swenson said. "Otherwise, if they have a project in the future and they don't have the money ... we will pay them back with our future allocation."
The nonprimary entitlement funds are part of the federal Airport Improvement Program that provides money to upgrade airport infrastructure, including runway and taxiway improvements, noise control, land purchases, safety and security projects, and gates. Congress appropriates money for the program annually.
The guidelines for nonprimary entitlement funds were changed when President Bush signed the Vision 100-Century of Aviation Reauthorization Act into law on Dec. 13, 2003. The law allows general aviation airports like Havre's to use nonprimary entitlement funds on airport improvement projects for hangars and terminal buildings. General aviation is the classification given to any airport with fewer than 2,500 boarding passengers each year.
"It's an opportunity we'll never have again," Bessette said.
In the 1990s, the Havre City-County Airport used federal grant money to build new runways, install landing lights, repaint runway markers and fog coat runway surfaces.
The Havre City-County Airport expects to get $45,085 from the Terry Airport, $116,400 from the Scobey Airport, $150,000 from the Pondera County Airport and $50,435 from the McCone County Airport.
Swenson said not all the agreements are finalized, but most are nearly complete.
Last year, Texas oilman John Klabzuba offered to pay $15,000 of the local match required from the Havre airport, which Bessette said could go toward decreasing the loan from the aeronautics board.
The airport has also received $150,000 in an indirect appropriation from Congress. Swenson said that money will be allocated through the Federal Aviation Administration, which does not allow funds to be used for terminal upgrades, so the money hasn't been figured into the project.