Hangar funding makes cut
At a time when most economic news hasn't been good, the city of Madras just might have something to cheer about.
A funding request for $2.16 million for a hangar to house a new aircraft business at the Madras Airport made it through the final review committee for the Oregon Department of Transportation's Connect Oregon II grants.
"We beat out huge projects," said Madras Mayor Jason Hale, who attended the committee's two-day meeting April 29 and 30 in Salem.
If the city receives the grant to build the hangar, Butler Aircraft, of Redmond, intends to move part of its operation from the Redmond Airport to the Madras Airport.
Nan and Travis Garnick, of Redmond, who have owned the company for the past year, plan to operate a heavy aircraft repair facility in Madras if they can obtain a Federal Aviation Administration 145 Repair Station License.
"It's a big deal," said City Administrator Mike Morgan, who also attended the committee meeting. "To begin with, when Butler Aircraft does locate here, it instantly brings about a dozen jobs with an average salary of $49,000 each."
"More than that, it's my understanding that this will be our first large aircraft maintenance facility at the Madras Airport," he added. "That will bring other businesses with it over time."
"Butler is a well-established aircraft company and they're expanding rather than moving, in order to make room for additional growth at the Redmond Airport," Morgan said. "This function they're bringing here has a chance to expand. They estimate that this could reach a total of 30 jobs."
After the final review committee prioritizes the projects, the Oregon Transportation Commission will make the final decision to fund the projects later this month.
"We're already starting to gather information so we can hit the ground running," said Morgan. "We want to do a design-build contract, so we're gathering information so we can put together the bid documents."
The city plans to start advertising for bids prior to the May OTC meeting, "so when OTC approves this, we'll be close to being able to award the contract," he explained.
Once the city has funding approval, he added, "Our pledge to all these review authorities is that we'll have this done and operational within 12 months of signing the contract."
The total cost of the hangar is estimated at $2.7 million, Morgan said, "so we're borrowing $600,000. We'll lease the building for the cost of our borrowed money."
"This makes us part of the Central Oregon aeronautics market that we see developing," he said.
Hale expressed appreciation for city staff's work on the project. "I'm extremely happy with the time and effort that the city of Madras staff has put together to make this happen," said Hale.