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Commissioners accept grant for airport improvements

Nancy Dallas, Appeal Staff Writer

SILVER SPRINGS – Funding for the second phase of $1.1 million in improvements to the Silver Springs airport has been approved.

Lyon County Commissioners recently accepted a $633,770 Federal Aviation Administration grant for acquisition of approximately 40 acres of land for airplane approach protection, installation of medium intensity runway lighting and construction of an airplane tie-down apron. However, cost projections show the project will need additional funding.

Hale Bennett, who co-owns and manges the airport with his wife, Kay, said Community Development Block Grant officials have said the county can apply to them for the expected $7,500 shortfall.

“They have indicated that we can apply for it at the next go-round and that it will probably be granted,” he said.

In order to receive block grant funding, the application would have to be approved in February as one of the county’s two recommended applications to be sent to the state. If the application is ultimately approved at the federal level, funding would be available in July 2002.

County Public Works Director Chuck Swanson told the board he also expected a future block grant to cover the shortfall.

Making the motion for approval to move forward, Commissioner LeRoy Goodman said the project is important enough to Lyon County they should be able to come with the money if the grant does not materialize.

“I do not want to make this contingent upon CDBG coming through because that is not enough money to spoil this whole deal. I think the county can come up with $7,500. For $633,770 in improvements, that’s not a bad return.”

Goodman pointed out the earliest the project can start is 180 days after the Sept. 30 grant acceptance deadline, which pushes it to at least April.

The project is the second in a series of several proposed improvements being funded by the $1.1 million in aviation grant and federal Community Development Block Grant money. According to Bennett, a runway reconstruction and paving project has been totally secured and is under budget.

In February, commissioners appointed Hale Bennett as project manager to oversee the $1.1 million project. Hale and Kay Bennett, both licensed pilots, are in the second year of a 50-year lease with Lyon County for the property surrounding the runway.