At a meeting of the Mineral County Airport and Land Use on April 14, airport representative Betty Easley shared a full multimedia presentation, reviewing the benefits and breakdowns necessary to understand what a treasure it is to have this resource in a town of our size.

Easley explained, “Our airport is positioned in a crucial location, as a halfway point for many pilots. Flyers are delighted to learn of the pilot lounge which provides a resting space. We have computers with Wi-Fi; access to courtesy cars they can use locally and many common niceties so they can have a meeting or use our small appliances and facilities. While fueling, or whether they just stop by, we offer full brochures, encourage them to go into town to eat, see the sites or stay over at the motels and hotels available.”

Easley had kept precise numbers of how many pilots and passengers stayed over, used our local facilities for meals and the average stay which transferred into dollars spent in Hawthorne.

Letters of appreciation reinforced the airport benefits, confirming that the town merchants endorse the airport and appreciate the work done by the volunteers as stellar ambassadors to the airport guests. This year’s Armed Forces Day will be the third year for a fly over which was completely funded by donations within the community. The Hawthorne Airport has a positive reputation, providing service 24 hours 7 days a week to private and business flights, plus the medical flights required to service our community needs.

With two area FAA representatives on hand, a complete review of the landing strips current condition and suggested needs were discussed by the board. The current taxi way is in need of construction, with an alternate positioning and extension, but the board concurred that this year’s budget could not sustain the changes at this time.

Discussion of the Vision 20/20 was discussed for consideration of possible impact to the needs at hand with the decision leaning toward a five year plan of prioritizing the airport needs in phases. Commissioner Jerrie Tipton was on hand mentioning a possible dollar match, restrained to maybe $10-$15,000.  Another option would be available once the school bond was paid off, freeing up money into the general fund but that needed further discussion as the school district needs had not been evaluated.

Chairman Larry Grant summed it up by saying, “So many have want to’s and must have’s, which means we have to weigh what has to be moved on first and waiting one year on the airport won’t hurt according to the FAA input. A three year study is still good to continue.”

Prioritizing all groups was a must. Coordinating the County Vision Plan; Bureau of Land Management with surveys and layouts; conferring with Town Development and weighing in the actual capital improvement plans would be necessary before determining the overall assessment.

The FAA representatives stated that the pavement is good with only a crack and seal process needed.  Bids for the future were safely submitted within time frames according to need, so they were not in jeopardy of loss.

“We want to give you all a pat on the back.  Your airport is a treasure that most towns would die to have.  You all deserve credit for the foresight of keeping it and looking ahead with the future goals of maintaining and expanding its use,” they said.