Don Reid The Daily Reporter
Branch County airport receives new $35K ARPA grant
March 23, 2023
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  • Money from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is still coming in, with $35,000 arriving this week for the Branch County Memorial Airport.  

    “I’m allowed to use it for general operating expenses,” airport manager Joe Best said. “We have one hangar where the main beam across it is sagging. You can’t close the doors. I’ve got two more hangers that need to be repaired and repainted with sheet metal.” 

    The main work will be on the airport generator. Currently, it operates only the rotating beacon and runway and landing lights.  

    ARPA grant funds will wire all county facilities at the Branch County Memorial Airport into the emergency generator.

    Best will use the ARPA funds to wire the generator and controls to the terminal building and maintenance building.

    “Then everything to do with the runway lights, terminal building command and control will operate with a power outage,” Best said. “Because now we’re going to have the amateur radio club in the terminal, they’ll be able to set up for emergency communications.” 

    Last year, the state provided a COVID-19 grant of $42,000 that allowed the repainting of all airport markings and crack sealing on runways and taxiways. The airport prepaid and then was reimbursed.  

    During the pandemic, the airport also received a $13,000 Carissa grant plus $30,000 through a CARES Act grant. The total amount now received during COVID-19 was $117,000. 

    Because there is only one unleased hangar, the airport plans for new hangar construction during 2023. It is waiting for architectural designs.  

    Best said he expects work to start in April on the $1.2 million taxi-way expansion and apron improvements delayed from last fall because of supply chain issues and the October closing of asphalt plants.  

    Another problem came because Congress did not pass the 2022-23 federal budget until later than normal. The 90% federal match funding was not available until after Oct. 1. The state and county each pay 5% of the cost.  

    The original 2018 cost estimate was $465,000. By actual bidding last year cost almost tripled.  

    The project solves a safety issue because of congestion on the apron.