AUSTIN - A general aviation airport in East Texas won top honors recently for structural and aesthetic improvements that eventually turned a financial liability into an economic asset for the community and the region.
The Van Zandt County Regional Airport in Wills Point received the Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) 2012 Most Improved General Aviation Airport honor at the department's aviation awards banquet held recently at the 30th annual Texas Aviation Convention in Galveston.
The small county airport was recognized for its efforts to turn a marginal business operation into a viable concern that would make money instead of cost money.
City and county officials-along with private sector support-embarked on an aggressive beautification and infrastructure improvement program to bring the airport up to service levels that would attract new business. Several local and state grants-including an $8,500 grant from the Wills Point Economic Development Corporation-helped the Airport Advisory Board to implement a vegetation management program that included wildflower seeding and new grass to prevent erosion.
TxDOT and the city and county partnered to acquire RAMP (Routine Airport Maintenance Program) grants for pavement improvements, runway and ramp upgrades and renovate and build new infrastructure including a two-story brick office building, new lighting and an entrance drive and parking lot.
Instead of a financial drain, the airport is now turning a profit and attracting new business and events from around the state.
Representative Flynn stated, "I am pleased that TxDOT has honored the economic development going on in Wills Point and I am most pleased that this will add to the continuing efforts to improve the economic condition of our area. I am very grateful that the airport is recognized for the financial and structural improvements that are now making a real difference for the community."
Future projects include developing a five-year aviation plan, building new hangers, resurfacing the runway and building a maintenance road and a fuel farm.