Activity at the Henry County Airport has been consistent in the last year or so, and looks to be continuing this year.
Improvements of $2 million occurred at the facility last year, all of which were paid for through federal grant money.
One of the grants, for $1.95 million, went toward paving the runway and installing new lighting.
“We were one of two airports in Ohio that received this grant,” said Tom Parker, president of the airport board. He pointed out the other airport was Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, which is split between civilian and military use.
Another grant, totaling $68,000, went toward a project to install a new beacon and wind cone.
Both those projects were completed late in 2020.
“If you ever go by there at night and the lights are on, it’s really impressive,” Parker said. “The wind cone is really a bright orange, it’s really a nice little airport out there.”
Commissioner Glenn Miller, who has his pilot’s license, said several years ago flying into the airport could be a challenge.
“It would be like, ‘OK, where’s the wind cone?’” Miller said.
This year, the airport is set to install a new access road, which is estimated at $310,000. Bids are due Feb. 25. The facility is located at 10646 County Road O.
Parker said 90% of the project will be covered by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), while the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), will fund 5%. A local match of 5%, or about $15,500, will also be needed.
Construction likely would begin in July and take about a month. The airport board asked if the county commissioners would be willing to put any money toward the local match. That will be discussed and a decision reached later.
Henry County already typically pays $15,000 a year toward the airport as part of its budget.
The improvements are welcome in light of the airport getting more use recently.
“I’ve noticed over the year that there has been an increase in traffic at the airport,” Miller said. “There were a few years that you hardly heard an airplane.”
Parker said Ames Aviation, located at the airport, employs four full-time staff. The company provides maintenance for general aircraft and business jets.
“He’s been busy,” Parker said. “That means airplanes are coming in for maintenance and they’re utilizing the airport.”
Three board members, including Parker, had terms expire at the end of December, and all three were approved for another two-year term. Parker will again serve as president, while Craig Birkhold and Tom McClain were also approved.