The federal dollars are starting to roll down the runway at the new Tooele County Airport in Wendover.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said a $1.2 million discretionary grant from the Federal Aviation Administration has been approved for the airport to help fund expansion of the new main runway.That cash infusion will bring federal participation in the airport to $3.88 million over four fiscal years - and there's more government money on the way.
County Commissioner Gary Grif-fith said Tuesday he expects millions in additional FAA grants over the next few years that will make the Wendover facility one of Utah's premier airports.
Barry Banks, aviation planner for the Wasatch Front Regional Council, said the new county airport is in a holding pattern for as much as $6.9 million in additional FAA funding through 2003.
Included in the list of future federally funded improvements are construction of a terminal, installation of an instrument landing system, rebuilding of the dilapidated parking apron and addition of a Global Positioning System approach to serve both runways.
"Everything has started to fall in place," said Commission Chairman Teryl Hunsaker. "We knew we could get this federal money if we could get our other financing."
The bailout of the Wendover Airport was assured recently when the county closed on a $1.2 million loan from Key Bank, about $700,000 of which went to repay an earlier bank loan the county obtained to help the city of Wendover.
In addition, the new county airport is benefiting from a $500,000 loan and a $500,000 outright grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development program, a $400,000 grant from the state's Community Impact Board and a $133,683 state aeronautics division grant.
That gives the county a total of $6.6 million to widen and resurface the runway to a length of 8,000 feet.
But the county is also hoping Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah, succeeds in his efforts to obtain another $1.5 million that will allow the runway to be extended to 10,000 feet, clearing the way for the installation of an instrument landing system.
The newly formed Tooele County Airport Advisory Board held its organizational meeting Tuesday, electing officers and reviewing applications for a new airport manager.
"We plan to select a new manager next week," said Banks, who is serving on the advisory board along with all three county commissioners and two members of the Wendover City Council.
The board also picked a refueling contractor for the airport and agreed to buy out the equipment of Icarus Aviation, the former fixed base operator that provided refueling and other services.