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Airport receives 2 $100,000 grants to build new hangar

Dickinson's airport could see a new 10,000 square foot hangar by next summer after two local entities approved $100,000 grants each.

The hangar would provide an area for transit aircraft to park overnight, including Great Lakes Airlines, which began overnight service on Aug. 17, said Matthew Remynse, manager of the Dickinson Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport.

"They're very concerned about the aircraft being susceptible to the cold," Remynse said. "They've asked to see a hangar built on the airfield. We were always seeing a need for the hangar and the airline and some demand down at the general aviation side really pushed us to moving forward."

Overnight service has been doing well, he said.

"In September, they didn't put on any less than 20 passengers in the morning," Remynse said.

The hangar could improve the airport's chances of reaching 10,000 enplanements, a number that could mean about $850,000 in additional federal funding, Remynse said.

"The plane's heated, its ready to go the next morning, the plane will take off," Remynse said. "Well if it's sitting outside there's the potential it could be affected by the cold and passengers won't be able to go so we'd be losing enplanements."

The Dickinson City Commission approved a $100,000 grant to the airport during an October meeting.

The city will use hospitality tax revenue as funding for the grant, a fund that Mayor Dennis Johnson says is "healthy."

The fund will end the year with a cash balance of $650,000.

Gaylon Baker, executive vice president of Stark Development Corp. in Dickinson, said the corporation pledged a $100,000 grant to the project and if needed, has approved a $75,000 loan.

"Of course it'll allow us to have a nice warm plane that'll be able to fire up in the morning and carry people," Baker said. "It'll help the airline, no matter what airline we have, to be able to harbor an airplane here. It'll make our flights more reliable."

Estimated at about $500,000 to $600,000, additional hangar space could benefit general aviation as well.

Pat Giese, owner of Western Edge Aviation, LLC, said the number of private planes utilizing the airport has increased in the last year.

Presently, the hangars are full, with about 24 planes.

"We're anxious to get in," Giese said.

Additional space is needed for an increase in transient traffic, such as oil industry employees and hunters, as well as for larger jets that are using the airport, Giese said.

"Otherwise now they kind of drop their people and go to Bismarck or Sidney (Mont.) or someplace that has accommodations for them," Giese said.

With larger, more complex planes, many owners wish to store their aircraft in heated hangars, but more space is needed.

"If they know that they can keep an airplane here overnight and keep it out of the weather, we might bring in a few more each year instead of them going to Bismarck or Sidney," Giese said.

It is unclear how much of the hangar space will be allotted for private use.

Tentatively, bids will be accepted in February for spring construction.

"We feel its going to be a very quick design development," Remynse said. "A pre-engineered building is what we're looking for."

The hangar is slated to be 100 feet by 100 feet, but could be bigger, depending on costs, Remynse said.

Remynse said the hangar should be completed before the end of next summer.