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Dickinson to use ARP funds for new hangar

The Dickinson County Board has voted to use American Rescue Plan funds to pay off a loan for the new $1.4 million hangar at Ford Airport. The 16,000-square-foot hangar will mostly be leased to commercial interests, but it will also house "The Silver Dragon," an A-26 Invader owned by Vincent Quadrani of Kingsford. The World War II bomber, still flown at air shows, will be the centerpiece of a museum display. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County will use American Rescue Plan funds to pay off a loan secured from a local bank for completion of a $1.4 million hangar at Ford Airport.

The county board Monday authorized payment of $747,443 to First National Bank & Trust of Iron Mountain. A $1.28 million construction contract for the 16,000-square-foot hangar was awarded in June 2021 to Gundlach Champion of Iron Mountain.

After a delay in steel delivery, the project is now substantially finished, with interior improvements underway. Much of the hangar will be leased to commercial interests while the county plans to have offices for its own use and a storage area to ease courthouse demands.

The hangar, located along the airport’s south perimeter on Woodward Avenue, will also house “The Silver Dragon,” an A-26 Invader owned by Vincent Quadrani of Kingsford. The World War II bomber, still flown at air shows, will be the centerpiece of a museum display.

Commissioner Joe Stevens told high school students attending the meeting that he expects class tours can be arranged.

The latest commitment of ARP funds leaves a balance of roughly $300,000 from a $4.9 million allocation, but further adjustments are likely, Controller Brian Bousley said. ARP is a federal pandemic aid package authorized in March 2021 and local governments have until the end of 2024 to obligate all funds.

The airport earlier benefited from a pair of $1 million pandemic assistance grants approved during former President Donald Trump’s administration. A 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act appropriation was followed by a supplemental CARES Act grant for 2021.

A year ago, President Joe Biden signed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that also provides substantial aid to airports, including an estimated $1 million for Ford Airport in the first of five annual rounds of funding.

Meanwhile, studies continue on a possible expansion or replacement of the airport’s Fontana Terminal, with an eye toward construction several years from now. A $140,000 study by civil engineers Prein & Newhof of Grand Rapids may be completed by the end of the year, paid with federal funds.

In other action Monday, the county board:

— Scheduled a 2023 budget meeting for 2 p.m. Tuesday.

— Authorized County Clerk-Register of Deeds Carol Bronzyk to post and fill upcoming vacancies in the office.

— Heard Chairman Henry Wender praise the Lake Antoine Park Partners’ “Lights at the Lake” project, which Commissioner Barbara Kramer said includes 30 campsites at the county park. The drive-thru displays may be viewed through Dec. 31.

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