Wilbarger Co. Airport officials receive federal money

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The Wilbarger County Airport and county officials are receiving a little more than $1 million in state funding to make improvements.

The Wilbarger County Airport is receiving its third grant since 2015 when it received a little more than $350,000 for engineering and design of pavement and electrical improvements. The second came in 2017 when it received more than $2 million for pavement improvements. This new grant will help with lighting and Vernon City Manager Marty Mangum said that is something that needed to be improved.

“You have general aviation people are flying in at night and it’s critical that they be able to see the runway,” Mangum said. “We don’t have a tower there that people call in, that they can ask ‘where are you at?’ and ‘if it’s clear?’ so, they need to be able to see where they are landing.”

TxDOT Public Information Officer Adele Lewis said with these type of grants the county will only have to pay 10% of the total cost.

“This type of money for this type of airport grant is paid for 90% out of federal funds,” Lewis said. “This is money that you’ve spent on your gas tax we send into the federal government coming back to us in the state, so that’s a good thing.”

Mangum said receiving this money is good for the city and the county.

“We are an agriculture-based economy,” Mangum said. “There is a lot of ag that flies out of there. We have spray pallets and stuff fly out of there. So, there’s an industry in itself at the airport and of course, we have an industry here that people fly in as well in their own private planes. So, it’s important to the community.”

Up next for the airport is a project bid that will be completed sometime this summer. TxDOT officials expect to provide around $60 million in funding for planning, constructing and maintaining community airports in 2019.

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