WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (AP) -- The Mingo County Airport Authority is celebrating the opening of a 5,000-foot runway and its new Air Transportation Park on a reclaimed mine site near Varney.
The air park stems from a public-private partnership with the authority, Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, Federal Aviation Administration, state Department of Transportation and Virginia-based Alpha Natural Resources.
Alpha spent about $1 million constructing the 975-acre site to FAA standards under its post-mine reclamation plan. It gave the land to the county in 2008.
Since then, some $6 million has been spent on runway, taxiway and apron facilities, plus lighting and fencing.
Officials say it gives private, corporate and industrial aircraft customers a safer, more efficient way to operate.
The air park is near Mingo Central High School, also built on a reclaimed surface mine.
Gov. Joe Manchin along with several local officials attended a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday at the Air Transportation Park along at Oldfield Branch near Varney.
According to a news release, the park is a previous mountaintop mining site. As part of its post-mine use, Alpha Natural Resources constructed the approximate 900-acre site to be approved by the FAA. The company plans to give the site to Mingo County.
The goal of the airport is to allow industrial planes to fly in and out to help transport goods.
No word on when the airport will open.
Statement from Senator Jay Rockefeller's Office
Senator Jay Rockefeller called today’s groundbreaking in Varney of the Mingo County Air Transportation Park a terrific step toward promising new economic development opportunities in the region.
Rockefeller worked closely on this project in recent years and was instrumental in securing $3.2 million through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the first phase of construction to make this new, safer and more efficient airport a reality.
“Healthy communities and promising economic progress hinge on new, creative opportunities – and the Mingo County Air Transportation Park is certainly an exciting example of just that,” Rockefeller said. “Airports are proven, sound investments that go a long way toward diversifying our local economies. They create new jobs, attract business opportunities and spur serious investments – all of which are especially important in our rural communities. I’m proud to have helped make this development possible, and I look forward to the new growth that is sure to come in Southern West Virginia.”
The new airport facility – which is the result of a partnership among the Mingo County Airport Authority, Alpha Natural Resources, the FAA, the West Virginia Department of Transportation and the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority – will serve private, corporate and industrial aircraft customers in the region. Work is presently underway to develop property adjacent to the new airport site.