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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Hinkle: "A lot of people played an important role" in securing W. Va. airport grant

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The 77-year-old North Central West Virginia Airport will use $15 million of federal funding to build a new terminal to replace one that's been in use since 1966.

The North Central West Virginia Airport (NCWVA) was awarded $15 million in grant funding from President Joe Biden's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as reported by a Yahoo! News article published July 8. The article reports West Virginia's U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D) and Shelley Moore Capito (R) were instrumental in securing the grant by asserting that the airport is essential to the region's economy, according to the report.

The NCWVA is located in Harrison County but has an equal economic impact on neighboring Marion County, according to the article. Randy Elliot, president of the Marion County Commission, said the progress at the airport "means so much to us," noting how the airport worked hard to achieve the 10,000 minimum annual enplanement requirement to qualify for federal funding. He said NCWVA now sees 30,000 to 40,000 enplanements per year.

"The big-ticket item was to get federal support for this project," Elliot said in the report, "and I'm thankful to our senators for helping us and get this new terminal."

David Hinkle, a member of the Benedum Airport Authority (BAA) and a Harrison County commissioner, said those involved in the grant effort "climbed a mountain we weren't sure we'd ever see the top of," the article reports.

"A lot of people played an important role in it," Hinkle said in the news report, "from the mayor of Bridgeport to the board members to our [U.S.] senators."

The BAA announced last summer an initiative nicknamed the "move the mountain" project, according to the report, to excavate and create 100 acres for industrial use as well as provide land for a 40,000-square-foot terminal. The land-development project, predicted to cost approximately $10 million, was nearly complete at the start of this summer, according to the report.

The $15 million in federal funding puts the terminal, expected to cost $25 million at completion, within the budget range, the article reports. Gov. Jim Justice awarded $20 million to the NCWVA in 2019; $10 million each for the excavation and terminal projects.

NCWVA Executive Director Rick Rock called a "driving force" in securing the grant, said they "wanted to set the example of how these projects can be successful."

"We knew it'd take the federal government, the state government, and locally to get this project done," Rock said. "We're just glad that everyone came through and supported us, saw the vision, and understood how important aviation is to West Virginia."

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