Port gives Kelso airport $25,000 boost to qualify for FAA grants

By Marissa Luck, January 13, 2015, The Daily News


Kelso airport will be able to undertake some major upgrades under a Port of Longview action approved Monday.


Port commissioners agreed to give the Southwest Washington Regional Airport $25,000 to help it raise the matching contribution needed to qualify for $700,000 in Federal Aviation Administration grants.


“I think the airport is going to play an important role in the future of this area,” said port commissioner Lou Johnson on Monday. “It’s going to be a very important part of our economic development.”


The $25,000 from the port is on top of $65,000 the port already gives to the airport. The port is one of four partners who finance and manage the airport; the others are Cowlitz County and the cities of Longview and Kelso.


Airport interim manager Sharon Zimmerman said the airport plans to use the FAA money funds for four projects: installing fencing along Talley Way; replacing an old beacon tower; demolishing hangers that are too close to the runway; and wildlife mitigation.


Zimmerman said the airport is used by corporate and other aircraft, including those from Light Flight, Les Schwab, John Deere, Foster Farms, JH Kelly, Weyerhaeuser Co. and Kapstone Paper & Packaging.


Scot Walstra, the vice president of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, said about the airport Monday, “It’s a terrific facility that has languished for a number of years, but I think the port’s interest for maximizing the infrastructure is terrific sign for jobs for future.”


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