Theodore Roosevelt Regional Airport has been awarded 2018 Commercial Service Airport of the Year by the North Dakota Aeronautics Commission.

The award was presented at the Upper Midwest Aviation Symposium, held March 5 in Bismarck.

Dickinson's airport was honored for maintaining safety, project management, and community awareness.

"It's really nice to be recognized for everyone's hard work," Kelly Braun, airport director, said. "It's a team effort, and it's nice to be awarded that."

The annual conference brings together the associations for North Dakota's airports, pilots and mechanics.

"It was great," Braun said. "For airports, it's an opportunity to hear firsthand from the FAA and state aeronautics on a wide range of subjects. Airport funding projects, any changes that may be coming out related to safety. There's a lot of information to be taken in."

Among its accomplishments in 2018, the airport had 22,592 boarded passengers, a 19 percent increase from 2017 numbers.

"I always say the airport's a good barometer of economic activity in southwest North Dakota," Braun said. "As that activity increases, the enplanement numbers at the airport increase, as well."

Working with United Airlines, the airport was able to increase the number of flights there, as well, particularly over the holiday season.

The airport was also recognized for its community engagement efforts.

In 2018, the airport supported the Make-A-Wish Foundation by providing VIP treatment to families traveling through the airport terminal in route to their final destinations.

The airport has also conducted tours for students from area schools, ranging from preschool to high school.

The airport supports the Civil Air Patrol Rough Rider Squadron, as well.

"Being able to participate in various ways, I think, is a benefit for the community and for the airport," Braun said.

Among improvements made to its airfield in 2018, the airport expanded its general aviation apron.

"We've seen an increase in general aviation traffic and we needed more space over there to accommodate transient aircrafts. Folks who are coming in and staying for a day or two," Braun said. "We just needed more parking spaces, essentially."

The airport also rehabilitated and widened its taxiways to better accommodate commercial airline traffic.

Improvements were also made to facilities.

In 2018, the airport started a lighting replacement program, upgrading its parking lot sign and hangar and commercial terminal lights to more efficient LEDs, which provide substantial cost savings.

The airport is now preparing for a major taxiway and runway reconstruction project.

The first construction phase is scheduled to start in April, weather permitting, Braun said, and conclude in October.

"We're also putting in a taxi lane that will provide access to the new Sanford hangar, for their fixed wing ambulance service," he said.

It is an honor for the airport to receive the NDAC award, Braun said.

"It brings a spotlight to the airport and the accomplishments we made last year," he said. "It's nice to be recognized."