Historic hangar set to be renovated

Published 10:46 am Friday, September 14, 2012

A World War II-era hangar at the Bainbridge-Decatur County Airport is about to get a facelift.

County Administrator Gary Breedlove said Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration and state Department of Transportation has funding available to improve small community airports. Breedlove said that the county should be able to get a grant of between $200,000 and $300,000 to improve the old hangar adjacent to the new terminal building.

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The hangar was built in 1942 and has 28,000 square feet of capacity. It is structurally sound and typically houses between 10-11 airplanes, whose owners pay a hangar rental fee to the county. However, the painted metal is dilapidated and the exterior is in generally rough shape.

Breedlove told the Decatur County Board of Commissioners at Tuesday’s regular board meeting that the county will only need to match approximately 3.75 percent of the grant — approximately $10,000 to $11,000. However, that money will not need to come from the county’s general fund. Instead, it will be taken from proceeds made when the county sold salvaged metal from the old Gilreath Building.

“It may seem, to some, that we are spending money frivolously,” Breedlove said. “But we could use the proceeds from the Gilreath building to cover our share. My concern is that if we put it off another year, the grant might not be there next time.”

Terry D. Tate, a line technician at the county airport, was excited to hear that the hangar would be renovated.

“Tearing it down would mean we were losing a part of our history,” he said.

Breedlove said the renovation will improve the overall look of the airport, and could have a benefit for economic development.

“We have a beautiful new terminal, which looks great, but right beside that is an ugly building,” he said. “It’s not a positive for the people who fly into our county, whether they’re just passing through, or flying in on the prospect of possibly doing some business here.

“It will also be more secure and safe for the pilots who store their planes there.”