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Kenmare airport gets major federal grant

It appears the Kenmare Municipal Airport will get all the upgrades it needs by this fall following the announcement July 13 of a $350,000 federal grant.

7/21/15 (Tue)

Boarding at Kenmare airport . . .
Julius Brekhus boards a crop-spraying airplane and prepares to take off from the Kenmare Municipal Airport July 14. The Kenmare airport is home to 22 aircraft. Last week, North Dakota’s congressional delegation announced a $350,000 renovation funding package. 

By Marvin Baker

It appears the Kenmare Municipal Airport will get all the upgrades it needs by this fall following the announcement July 13 of a $350,000 federal grant.

The airport has already received energy impact funds, but this new grant provides enough money to get all the needed work done, according to airport manager Hank Bodmer.

That means new, LED lights, a new beacon and a new building to house the electrical transfer, Bodmer said.

And that, he said, will amount to nearly $550,000 when it is expected to be completed in October.

“All of us on the board were shocked with a $500,000 cost, but we’re doing a first-class job,” Bodmer said. “We have one shot to do this for the next 20 years.”

Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. He said $355,997 has actually been awarded to the Kenmare Municipal Airport Authority to enhance safety.

“North Dakota’s airports play a key role in our continued growth and economic development,” Hoeven said. “This funding will go toward rehabilitating the Kenmare Municipal Airport’s runway lighting system, replace the airport’s rotating beacon and replacing it’s lighted windcone. These measures will enhance airfield operations and help keep pilots and passengers safe.”

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND, had a similar response. In April 2014, Heitkamp brought Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta to North Dakota to see first hand the air traffic challenges facing the western part of the state.

“Investing in aviation infrastructure is essential for North Dakota, especially as a our population and economy continue to grow,” Heitkamp said. “We need a robust transportation infrastructure to keep our communities strong and safe, and this rehabilitative federal funding will help improve the operations of Kenmare’s airport.”

Bodmer likes to think of it as a triad of completion that includes energy impact, local funding from the city and now the federal grant exceeding $350,000.

“We got a grant two years ago to overlay the runway,” Bodmer said. “There wasn’t enough for lights and we were told they were old.”

At that time the airport authority was encouraged to apply for a state grant for an engineering study.

That study has been done by Kadrmas Lee & Jackson and it indicates a strong need for the safety improvements.

The local match for the funding that is coming from the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to Bodmer, will be $25,500.

But, the lights that will be installed will be good for 25 years, he said.

The Strata Corp., of Grand Forks has already been awarded a contract. Most well known as a concrete company, Strata is involved in a number of other things including electrical contracting.

“The Federal Aviation Administration in Bismarck is the clearinghouse and they supervise to make sure everything is being done right,” Bodmer said. “They will pay us as construction is going on.”

Kenmare Municipal has 22 aircraft assigned and has a GPS approach, which means a plane is able to land in rough weather.

Bodmer said it costs about $20,000 a year to operate the airport, $10,000 of that comes from hangar rent, another $10,000 comes from fuel sales and chemical applicators’ use, and the airport gets 4 mills from the city’s coffers.

The airport has one 3,700-foot runway that is 60 feet wide with the runway having a magnetic position of 80 degrees. It is asphalt and normally accommodates the weight of single-wheels planes.

A second, and much smaller runway, is located at 260 degrees in case its needed for planes coming into land.

The airport is open to the public and is listed on the Billings, Mont., sectional chart.

Only two people are employed by the airport authority, one to mow the grass and the other for snow removal. The airport is normally unattended.

Bodmer said the airport is generally pretty busy these days as crop sprayer Julius Brekhus and his staff operate several planes and other chemical applicators fly into Kenmare.

“It will be nice when it’s completed,” Bodmer said. “And we’re hoping Strata has it done this fall.” ... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!