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BE ready to celebrate $6 million project

By Staff | Sep 8, 2013

It took a couple of years to complete, cost over $6 million, and was somewhat controversial when it was being planned.

But, now that the new runway at the Blue Earth Municipal Airport is open for airplane traffic, the city wants to celebrate.

On Sunday, Sept. 15, there will be a Fly-in/Drive-in Lunch and Grand Reopening Ribbon Cutting at the airport.

The event is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will include a program along with the official ribbon cutting ceremony.

“We have invited several of our federal and state representatives and officials to attend,” city administrator Kathy Bailey says. “So far, though, we are not sure who will be here.”

The same goes for the number of planes that could come that day.

“It depends on the weather,” says Barb Steier, who along with husband Tim Steier, manages the airport for the city. “The least we have ever had for one of these fly-ins is five planes. The most was over 100.”

Plus, it is a drive-in event, meaning those who want to come attend the festivities don’t have to arrive in a plane.

“We are hoping for a good turnout of our local residents,” says Steier. “We also expect those from the surrounding area will be coming as well.”

The Blue Earth Eagles Club Aerie No. 4486 is hosting the lunch of pork patty sandwiches, beans, chips, sweetcorn and beverages. Cost of the meal is $7 or $9 for two sandwiches. Children six and under meals are $3.50.

Proceeds of the meal go to the Eagles Club.

The new Blue Earth Airport runway has actually been open and in use for nearly a year.

“The project was actually done in three parts,” says Bailey. “Last fall we wrapped up the final stage and the runway was actually open before that.”

The project included a new taxiway as the first stage, which was completed two years ago.

That taxiway, when completed, became the temporary runway while the actual runway was being totally reconstructed as the second stage last year.

Stage three was the extension of the apron area around the hangers and other airport buildings. The new runway was open during that phase.

While the overall project had a cost of $6.4 million, the city of Blue Earth’s share was $325,000.

The rest of the costs were borne by both the Federal Aviation Authority and the State of Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Much of the funding for the runway comes from the tax on airline tickets and fuel.

Even the city’s share is being somewhat covered by money the city receives each year for airport upkeep and expense.

The grand reopening and ribbon cutting at the airport will be held on Sept. 15 rain or shine, says Steier.

“But, we are hoping for a nice, beautiful sunny day,” Steier quickly adds.