Gov. Pete Ricketts, Mayor Roger Steele and Grand Island and Hall County leaders celebrated Central Nebraska Regional Airport’s new firehouse Friday with a ribbon-cutting event, hosted by the Grand Island Area Chamber of Commerce.
The new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility replaces a brick firehouse built in 1965. At 6,200 square feet, it is nearly twice as large.
The project cost roughly $3.3 million, with 95% of the funding coming from a federal airport improvement grant.
Construction began in September 2019.
The airport also purchased a new 1,500-gallon firetruck, replacing a 1982 model. The new truck cost $714,000, with 95% from federal funds.
Ricketts called it a “great day” for the airport.
“This represents a continued investment in the growth of Grand Island,” he said.
Airports are important for facilitating the commerce and travel that allows cities like Grand Island to grow, Ricketts said.
“We need to continue to make sure we maintain our air traffic links so that we can see that continued commerce and travel,” he said.
Steele said the new firehouse represents many hours of hard work.
In recognition of National Manufacturer’s Month, the mayor called the new facility “a testament to Grand Island, Nebraska, being a powerhouse of manufacturing.”
“This is a beautiful facility, and all of the hard work and planning is evident,” Steele said.
It has been a challenging year for air travel due to the pandemic.
“This airport has weathered difficult times before, and it will again,” he said.
Steele celebrated the city’s partnership with the airport.
“Partnerships like this show how two government agencies can work together to keep costs down and toward a shared goal of creating a vibrant and progressive airport to serve our community,” he said.
Central Nebraska Regional Airport is the “front door” to Grand Island, Steele said.
“It is a beautiful welcome to many who come to our community,” he said. “This is just another indication of the legacy of success that our airport stands for: for the betterment of all central Nebraska.”
Pam Lancaster, chairwoman of the Hall County Board of Commissioners, said the airport is important to many, both personally and professionally.
“This is impressive,” Lancaster said. “Mike Olson and his band of visionaries, known as the Airport Authority, have accomplished things beyond any of our wildest imaginations.”
She said, “Thank you for your love of this community and for your vision.”
Mike Olson, CNRA executive director, was left speechless by the kind words.
“It’s not me that’s done this. It’s a group of people and other organizations that believe in the airport that make this airport what it is,” Olson said. “Having five board members who really get it is fantastic.”
He thanked the community for its continuous support.
“We want to keep earning your support every day, and we want to earn other people’s support, too,” Olson said. “You can help us in that. Encourage everyone to look at airfares from Grand Island. Encourage people to be involved in the airport community.”
Not even the pandemic can deter the airport in its mission or slow its progress, he said.
“Yes, we’re going to respect it, and there’s a lot of things we do in the terminal that you don’t see that ensure the safety of all our traveling public, but we’ve got a great thing going here,” Olson said. “Let’s not slow down now.”
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