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December 19, 2013 8:48 am

High-flying event

Written by Gib Mathers

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead offers his hand in farewell to Debbie Weckler, operator of the Powell Municipal Airport, following the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the airport’s new terminal Tuesday morning. Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead offers his hand in farewell to Debbie Weckler, operator of the Powell Municipal Airport, following the grand opening and ribbon cutting for the airport’s new terminal Tuesday morning. Tribune photo by Gib Mathers

It got off to a flying start.

A sizable group of local dignitaries mixed with Powell seventh-graders to celebrate Powell Municipal Airport’s new terminal official opening Tuesday morning.

Gov. Matt Mead and Mayor Don Hillman teamed up to cut the ribbon.

Hot coffee and assorted cookies helped celebrants ward off the chill while Mead spoke briefly and posed for a dozen or so photos with locals.

Mead was surrounded by the entire seventh-grade class, but took the kids’ enthusiasm in stride with a fatherly smile.

Airports like Powell’s aid economic development and tourism and give ambulances a safe landing zone for critical patient transport, Mead said. Airports comparable to Powell’s serve citizens around Wyoming, he said.

After the ceremony, the governor said they aid economic development and he will ask for additional Wyoming Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Division funding for projects during the Wyoming Legislature’s 2014 budget session.

Debbie Weckler, city of Powell airport operator, invited the governor to the terminal’s official grand opening and ribbon cutting, state Rep. Dave Blevins said.

Under Weckler’s direction, the airport is being recognized by pilots and the governor for the friendly atmosphere. “The greeting I get is second to none,” Mead said. “It’s just a good way to enter this wonderful town of Powell.”

Hillman was happy the governor flew in on his jet to attend the opening.

“On behalf of the city of Powell, thank you,” he said, readying his scissors.

“Powell (Airport) is business-ready,” said Blevins, who is also chairman of the Powell Airport Advisory Commission.

He said he expects commercial aviation to grow exponentially. As more airliners vie for airspace over big airports, general aviation from small private planes to corporate jets will flock to facilities like Powell Municipal Airport and it is ready with a new pilot-friendly terminal, hangars and reasonably-priced fuel, he said.

He also anticipates a shortage of pilots in the future. That is why Northwest College is now offering aeronautic instruction, Blevins said.

Prior to his takeoff, Weckler gave Mead a bag containing Christmas treats she baked for the governor and his crew. 

The 3,840 square foot terminal/snow equipment removal building and demolition of the old terminal cost $542,200. The city of Powell put up $23,136. The Federal Aviation Administration contributed $450,000 and the Wyoming Department of Transportration, $81,614.

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