Over $2.8 million in improvements


By Ryan Berry


GREENVILLE — The Darke County Commissioners approved a fund advance on Tuesday, Aug. 15 for payment on the terminal construction project at the Darke County Airport.

The fund advance was for a total of $241,210.20 to cover the seventh and eighth payment made on the project. These funds will be returned to the general fund once money is received from the FAA Terminal Construction Grant.

The majority of the construction costs for the new terminal building, access road, parking lot, and vault for the controls (runway lights, etc.) have been covered by grants. The county is also putting in a new fuel farm.

The projected cost for construction of the new terminal building is $1.645 million with $1.35 million received from the FAA Airport Terminal Grant. The county also received assistance for the access road and parking lot. The cost for both has exceeded $400,000. According to Commissioner Matt Aultman, the county received $334,000 from the Airport Improvement Grant (AIP) and another $18,500 from ODOT to build both.

Another $242,000 was received from AIP funds and $13,500 from ODOT to purchase and install a vault to contain the controls. The estimated cost for the vault is $269,000. Aultman pointed out that installing a weather-proof vault for the controls was cheaper than moving the controls to the new terminal building.

The county is responsible for funding beyond what grants have provided.

The county is also installing a new fueling system at the airport at an approximate cost of $500,000. The fuel farm will include a new point of sale system. Aultman said the county has witnessed a continual increase in fuel sales over the past five years. When he came onto the commission, sales were barely above $50,000 to $60,000. This year they will be close to the $200,000 mark. Aultman said the county is installing the fuel farm on its own.

AIP funding comes from fuel tax, and landing and terminal fees from larger airports. Those funds are put into a pool and then distributed.

When asked if the current terminal got much use, Aultman said, “You’d be surprised.” He pointed to the terminal being used for meetings by outside groups, as well as a place for pilots from NetJet waiting on clients, training for persons learning to fly and transient pilots. He noted a pilot recently flying from coast to coast used the terminal as a layover when the weather was bad.

The county is hoping to have the new terminal building complete in time for the annual Fly-In Day on Sept. 23. The annual free event is held to showcase the Darke County Airport. There will be tours of the new terminal, CareFlight, ODOT aircraft and the Kestrel Warbirds Experience.

Aultman shared a future project for the airport includes working on the hangars. He said the current hangars were out-of-date when the county took possession of the airport. They have received interest from individuals wanting to base their aircraft out of the airport, as well as individuals needing a place for transient aircraft if they are staying a day or two in the county.

The commissioners believe they can get help with the project through the Airport Infrastructure Grant (AIG) Program. AIG funding is more flexible than the AIP funding. The county competes against the region to get AIG funds.

Fencing is also a need at the airport. Aultman said because of the wildlife in the rural area, as well as snow mobiles, ATVs, etc., the county needs to look at the safety and security of the airport. He quipped the last thing a pilot wants to see when landing is a deer standing on the runway.

The airport manager is currently putting together a business plan and vision to make the airport profitable.

He added, “Beyond that, I don’t think we have any plans.”

To contact Daily Advocate Editor Ryan Berry, email [email protected].

No posts to display