South Dakota panel OKs state funds for two county-seat public airports

Capitol News Bureau
KELO Airport Plane

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Two South Dakota communities that are county seats won approval Tuesday for state aid to their proposed airport projects.

The South Dakota Aeronautics Commission agreed to provide some funding to public airports at De Smet and Murdo.

De Smet, in Kingsbury County, plans to add runway turnarounds that could someday link to taxiways.

The federal government would pay up to $45,000 of the $50,000 estimated cost for designing the pads. State government would give $2,500 and the local share would be $2,500.

Murdo, in Jones County, wants to build a 60-feet by 60-feet hangar. The estimated cost for design, engineering and other preliminary work is $73,333.

The federal government would put in $66,000, while the state funds would cover $3,667 and the local share would be $3,666.

“This is a revenue-producing hangar for the city of Murdo. They don’t have anything yet,” Jon Becker, who works in the state aviation office, told the commission during its teleconference meeting.

Rental income from the hangar would help support the airport, according to Becker.  

Construction would follow a second round of grant funding.

The commission deferred action on a $30,000 request from Lake Area Technical Institute at Watertown.

Greg Klein, the aviation department supervisor for the school, said the cash would be used for upgrading avionics equipment in an older Cessna 172 plane the program is receiving as a gift from a former student. Students accompanied by instructors would fly the plane.

The state commission previously gave financial support for an aviation simulator that South Dakota State University at Brookings uses in recruiting pilots-to-be.

“My hope is we are not competing with other university programs in the state,” Klein said. “I think this is a totally different clientele.”

The campuses are about 50 miles apart. Both offer aviation maintenance programs.

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