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Airport receives $820K

FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP – The Houghton County Memorial Airport will be better able to keep its runways safe during winter with a $820,000 Federal Aviation Administration grant.

The money will help replace the airport’s snowblower, which it received in 2004.

“It’s a critical piece of equipment for removing snow at the airport,” said Airport Manager Dennis Hext. “Without it, we’d be in big trouble.”

The apparatus is slightly smaller than an 18-wheeler, Hext said, and can blow snow more than 100 feet to the side.

“We can’t have big banks on the side of the runway,” he said. “We have to be able to blow it as far as we can.”

The snowblower is built from scratch, which takes six to nine months, Hext said. The airport should receive it sometime between the middle and end of the coming winter.

The FAA grant covers 95 percent of the cost. The remaining 5 percent is split evenly between state and local, the latter of which comes from passenger facility charges.

The FAA money is part of annual entitlements for capital improvements. Passenger usage of the airport helps determine the amount, Hext said.

“It’s more of a community grant than anything else, because of the usage of the airport,” he said. “It’s basically the community’s tax dollars that are working here and keeping the airport open.”

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