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Watford City, Dunseith airports awarded $400K in grants

WASHINGTON — After a visit from the Federal Aviation Administration’s top official, North Dakota airports are getting more attention and money, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said Wednesday.

The Watford City Airport Authority has been awarded $327,309 for apron pavement rehabilitation, the senator’s office announced in a press release. The International Peace Garden Airport near Dunseith will also get $85,999 for pavement repair.

“We are very serious about pushing forward,” Heitkamp said. “It is really important for the administrators to see what we have out in North Dakota, to realize this isn’t a temporary situation.”

The funds come after FAA Administrator Michael Huerta visited Williston’s Sloulin Field International Airport in late April. Five other airports in Minot, Grand Forks, Bowman, Devils Lake and Jamestown will get more than $17.5 million in federal grants.

Heitkamp said Huerta’s visit didn’t hurt the airports, as far as funding goes.

“I think once he saw some of the presentations in Williston that the airport administrators made, I think he realized that this is a growing population, that we need to accommodate and provide resources and deploy resources not just to the large airports but also airport like Watford City,” she said.

“There is so much traffic between Watford City and Williston. It will certainly take some stress of the Williston airport when the Watford City airport is equipped to handle general aviation.”

Heitkamp was unsure how much airports would need to accommodate the growing population from the oil boom. The North Dakota Aeronautics Commission has conducted a needs assessment study and airport administrators have been aggressive in voicing concerns and needs, Heitkamp said.

The Democrat senator said she will continue to ask the federal agencies for assistance, adding the improvement will have to serve travelers not for a few years but several decades.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.