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March 15, 2016
WESLACO — Efforts to expand the Mid-Valley Airport have once again garnered praise from state officials.
City leaders on Thursday were on-hand at the 34th Texas Aviation Conference in Montgomery, Texas to accept the award for Most Improved General Aviation Airport, which, according to now-former airport director George Garrett, marks the second occasion the facility has been bestowed the honor.
The airport was first awarded in 1994 after its runway was expanded from 3,500 to 4,000 feet. Since then, the runway was lengthened by another thousand feet and is currently undergoing a $15 million expansion project that will extend it to 6,000 feet.
The runway has also been widened from 50 to 55 feet.
Improvements over the last 20 years total a $45 million investment with 90 percent of the bill paid for by the FAA and the State of Texas. Among the improvements was the construction of large corporate hangars.
“It’s come a long, long way from when I came here and we got that award,” Garrett said on Monday, recalling how his tenure as director began before retiring last month after 21 years of service. “Because of grant monies, the city’s only paying for 10 percent while with the Federal Aviation Administration and the state make up other 90 (percent). We’re getting a lot of bang for our buck, because there’s not a lot of programs you can get 90 percent funding for.”
The conference is an event sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, which awards three more honors for as many categories from its aviation division: General Aviation Airport of the Year, General Aviation Airport Manager of the Year and Reliever Airport of the Year, or Reliever Airport Manager of the Year.
Kari Campbell, director of grant management and administration for TxDOT, said that Weslaco was one of seven competing for the award.
Accepting on behalf of the city last week were City Manager Mike Perez and Mayor David Suarez.
“I think it is a sign of progress,” Perez said of the recognition. “As we continue to grow and have more commerce in South Texas, the need and demand for a general aviation airport will be more important. If you look at the traffic the airports in McAllen and Harlingen are having, there will be greater need.”
Garrett believes the Mid-Valley Airport, upon the completion of its expansion, will be in a position to meet such need.
“It’ll be able to accept larger aircrafts to the airport, primarily focusing on corporate airplanes and jets,” he said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Olga Noriega offered congratulatory remarks via her Facebook page.
“These improvements were instituted and implemented mostly by local efforts,” she wrote. “This award shows that the airport has made significant changes that are clearly noticeable to users and now better meets the needs of the area; a visual appearance that evokes pride from the area served.”
Suarez was unavailable for comment as of press time.Read More
January 19, 2016Read More
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