Alexander Field: Building back up
By City Times staff
Continued from a previous edition
MidState Airlines patronage declined quickly in the 1980s, which led to its sale in 1986. The airport then became a haven for recreational flight and a steady provider to local corporate aviation.
What was once a bustling airport has slowed to its customer traffic, but it has remained a steady provider to local aviation.
One of the factors for its traffic decrease is reflective of the local paper industry and its decline in corporate flights.
However, with the introduction of Sand Valley, the airport is once again experiencing growth. In order to serve this new form of clientele, the airport commission saw a need to invest in its infrastructure, facilities, and equipment.
With local tax dollar supporting its general operation and maintenance, officials needed to look elsewhere for financial support, to make the improvements needed to accommodate its growth.
Airport manager, Jeremy Sickler, was on ground zero watching the airport find its new stride.
“There had been some planning done before I got here, but the first year I was here was when the development started,” Sickler said, who started at the airport in January 2016. “That spring we started projects.
“There was a lot of pent up ambition and the anticipation of what Sand Valley might bring for the airport.”
“When things started happening here, it happened fast.
“The first phase was just updating and upgrading some of our navigational aids…Then, there was some preliminary construction work in anticipation of what was to be a large project that was to be done.”
What came next was a partial reconstruction of runway to give it a design that could accommodate the new traffic.
To accomplish this, and future expansion work, the airport needed assistance, which came in the form of state and federal grant money. In the end, that grant money would total $13 million.
“Per the Bureau of Aeronautics, who oversees the monetary investment in the airport – the grant money, over that four-year period, there were only a few other airports in the state that got more money than we did. Those were the bigger air carrier airports – Madison, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Appleton,” Sickler explained.
“For a smaller airport, and certainly a less active airport to be funded at a level up there with the air carrier airports was quite an honor.”
Sickler said that he believes that the reason the funding came so prevalently was due to Sand Valley’s notoriety.
“Everybody in Madison, and even people in (Washington) D.C., understood the impact that Sand Valley was going to have on this area,” Sickler said.
Continued next week