Airport celebrates grand re-opening in WindomWINDOM — A coating of snow and temperatures in the upper 20s wasn’t what the people of Windom had hoped for when they planned their grand re-opening of the Windom Municipal Airport Saturday morning.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WINDOM — A coating of snow and temperatures in the upper 20s wasn’t what the people of Windom had hoped for when they planned their grand re-opening of the Windom Municipal Airport Saturday morning.
Guests were dressed in winter coats, hats, scarves and mittens to welcome Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, along with State Sen. Jim Vickerman and Rep. Rod Hamilton to the airport’s hangar for the event.
The grand opening celebration was one of the final events to cap off what had been more than a month-long salute to aviation at the Cottonwood County Historical Museum in Windom. The historical society was on hand at the airport Saturday to give kids a chance to make gliders and paper airplanes as part of the festivities.
With a space heater providing a little warmth indoors, guests sat on chilly metal picnic tables as Klobuchar addressed the gathering.
“The mayor and I are well aware that the longer we talk, the less heat is on,” she joked before congratulating the city on its rejuvenated runway.
“As you can imagine, I travel quite a bit and I use some of our small airports and small planes,” said Klobuchar. “In my line of work, I can see how important it is to have an airport.”
The Windom Municipal Airport was completed in 1968, and was in desperate need of repair. According to Windom Mayor Kirby Kruse, the city’s airport commission had a plan, but without funding, there wasn’t much that could be done.
When the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars were made available, the Windom airport project was considered “shovel ready.”
“This is exactly the kind of shovel ready project we were talking about when we talked about the recovery act,” Klobuchar said. “With the help of $1.196 million in federal recovery act funding, we are able to stand here today and proudly say that this airport is open to business.”
The Windom airport project utilized an innovative construction technique that involved overlaying the original asphalt runway with concrete, rather than tearing out the original 75- by 3,600-foot runway.
The new technique will be closely monitored by the city and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, to see if it can be used in highway reconstruction in the future, Klobuchar said.
“As I look at rural Minnesota and think about how important it is to not just have airports but also have good roads and bridges … to make sure we’ve got the kind of internet lines we need, (it’s) because kids that grow up in rural Minnesota should be able to live and work in rural Minnesota,” she said. “That’s why infrastructure is so important.”
Kruse said the improved runway will be a great tool for Windom’s economic development.
“I’m sure it will help Toro and other businesses that are already in town to have a viable and good airport,” Kruse said.
Vickerman congratulated community leaders for their work to get the project funded and completed.
“You have to have an airport if you want a medium-sized town to survive,” said Vickerman, offering his thanks to Sen. Klobuchar for the work she did to secure ARRA funding for the airport project.
“It’s a great day for us, and this is going to help. If you’re going to keep up with the real world, you have to have a decent airport,” he added.
Rep. Rod Hamilton said the airport improvements were well-deserved for the community of Windom, and talked of how well the community comes together to get things done.
“Projects like this just don’t happen on their own … it takes the involvement of everyone around,” Hamilton said.
Prior to her stop in Windom, Klobuchar visited with about a third of the residents of Darfur about the need for assistance to help fund construction of a new fire hall. Later in the day, she planned a stop in Willmar.
“We’re just doing a lot of focus on the economy,” she said of her visits. “It’s so much better to get a sense of what’s going on — I visit all the counties every year, and there’s 87 of them.”