JEFFERSON — Ashe County Airport added five hangars to its facilities in a property acquisition made Jan. 11, in addition to receiving funding for a new waterline and pumping system from the N.C. Board of Transportation in January, according to airport manager Eric Payne.
According to Payne, the county purchased five hangars sitting on 7.9 acres of land adjacent to the airport, previously owned by former airport manager Marvin Stump. The $350,000 acquisition was funded by the state, Payne said.
The Stump property was accessible via a driveway attached to Ashe Central School Road, making the land a priority acquisition for the airport in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, per TSA requirements, according to Payne. With the Jan. 11 purchase, Payne said there is no longer private road access to the Ashe County Airport.
There is an old mobile home that will need to be removed from the 1/3 acre property, and newer, safer doors will need to be installed on several of the hangars, according to Payne. Ashe County Airport now has 22 rentable hangars, Payne said.
In addition to the extra hangars, Ashe County Airport was approved for $675,000 in funding to install a waterline that meets hangar tenant and firefighter needs, according to the N.C. Board of Transportation.
The new waterline and pumping system will enable more water to reach the airport in case of an emergency. At 3,177 feet above sea level, Ashe County Airport is the highest public airport in North Carolina, making water access unusually challenging, according to an N.C. Board of Transportation press release.
“The water at the airport is provided by a well that would not have sufficient water volume or pressure for the fire department to battle a fire at the airport,” Payne said in the press release. “The installation of the waterline would provide the volume and pressure for a fire hydrant which would give the firefighters a better chance of controlling a bad situation when or if it ever arises.”
The waterline improvements to Ashe County Airport come as part of a $5.7 million funding package disbursed across five other North Carolina airports, according to the state board of transportation press release.
Payne said the airport also plans to expand its parallel taxiway during the 2019-2020 fiscal year as part of a larger 10-year strategic plan, making hangar access easier and safer for pilots.
According to statistics provided by the N.C. Division of Aviation, Ashe County Airport’s economic impact includes 235 jobs and more than $53.5 million in economic output.