Dozens of planes land in Evart to mark opening of terminal

EVART — After a festive groundbreaking ceremony in May of this year, work began on the new Evart Municipal Airport terminal almost anonymously.

The terminal is tucked away off U.S. 10 “ … back in the field.”

Unless most folks in the area knew what they were looking for, and where they should be looking, they probably didn’t notice the construction project moving forward along the mid-section of the runway area.

While much of the construction may have been largely unnoticed, the dedication of the terminal building Saturday was certainly not “anonymous”, or “unnoticed.”

It was a grand affair ... and often noisy.

The ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Evart Air Industrial Park terminal building was accompanied by a hearty breakfast for all, lots of speeches and lots of planes landing and taking off.

Some 30 airplanes of all makes and models flew in from all over the state to help residents of Evart celebrate the dedication and Open House of the new terminal.

It was, by any stretch of the imagination, an special day — and the weather was spectacular.

“I’m very excited,” reported City Manager Zack Szackas. “I can’t believe how many planes have flown in and how many people from our community came out to celebrate with us.

“What a great turn-out.”

Szackas is especially excited over the potential the new terminal holds for the Evart community.

“This is just the beginning,” he said. “This facility is welcoming and offers a great place for pilots to land, log in, rest up, and head off to visit our city.

“We hope to have a fuel depot here that will make Evart even more attractive to pilots heading north and south.

“The terminal really helps open up the entire industrial park.

“It has long been former Local Development Finance Authority director Dan Elliott’s dream to create a “just in time” airport shipping facility that would really put Evart and Osceola County on the industrial map - offering the latest and best opportunities to businesses needing to ship product and freight in short time.

“A continually improving airport will answer that need.”

Szackas noted there were plans in the works to expand the airport to include not only a fuel depot, but also permanent hanger space, mechanic services, a courtesy car on site, and more.

The airport terminal was constructed using funds largely generated through federal aviation fees levied on airport users through payment of tax on aviation fuel. The Federal Aviation Agency receives the money and disperses it to individual states. Michigan’s DOT aeronautics division takes the money and divides it up among the 55 qualifying airports located in this state.

There were some matching funds - 2.5 percent of the total cost - invested by the city, but local tax money was not the major funding source for this project.

The federal government, through aviation taxes, paid 95 percent. The MDOT aviation division paid 2.5 percent. The City of Evart paid 2.5 percent.

The airport terminal was constructed as a “Green building” by the team from Johnson Diversified Services, Inc. - out of Mason, Michigan.

JDS owner Neal Johnson designed the project to save money - both short and long term - by using the latest techniques and processes.

Planners used the latest technologies to create a better building, and save significantly on energy costs.

For example, the original plans called for standard heating and cooling. This was changed to involve geo-thermal heating.

The construction team also used low VOC paint and other environmentally friendly finishes as well as throughout construction.

LDFA director Melora Theunick was very pleased with the new terminal, and the outpouring of support from the community during the Open House and dedication.

“So many people showed up to spend this wonderful day with us,” she said with a smile.

“We had about 30 planes fly in. That’s what having an airport is all about ...planes. Watching the planes landing and taking off, and giving the people of Evart a chance to chat with pilots was just a lot of fun.

“We have had so much cooperation as we set plans for this event. People and businesses around the community really got out and supported the day.

“The Evart Lions Club turned out to cook breakfast and it has really been a great morning.”

With the roar of planes continually landing and taking off in the background, Evart Mayor Eric Schmidt welcomed the hundreds of guests and visitors on hand for the festive ribbon cutting.

Schmidt especially noted and thanked Dan Elliott as the person who really pushed the vision of a terminal building for the airport. He also thanked former mayor and city manager Roger Elkins for his role in moving the project forward.

“If it wasn’t for the hard work of past City Councils, and the dreams of people like Dan and Roger, this wouldn’t have been possible or come together.

“This building holds a lot of promise for the future and the potential growth of our community.

“The terminal is an asset, and we hope to create an even more impressive presence here — with fuel available and a way to get in and out of the city businesses and services. We hope to see hangers that would make it attractive for pilots to make Evart their homebase.

“We have a lot to offer. We want to make it available to the most number of people.”

State Representative Phil Potvin, of the 102nd District, was pleased to be in Evart to help celebrate the festive Open House of the terminal.

“This is a true celebration - celebrating the future of Evart,” said Potvin.

“We are looking to the future in Michigan. This building is an example of you looking to the future in Evart.

“We need to bring jobs back to Michigan, and that is what you are doing with projects such as this airport — reaching out to industry with facilities that make it possible for them to move products rapidly.

“These are exciting times in Evart. You are at a crossroads looking to your future. I feel honored to have even a small part in this celebration with you.”

Representative Joel Johnson, representing the legislative district that includes neighboring Clare, (and will absorb Evart and parts of Osceola County following redistricting), said he was excited to see the continuing growth in Evart.

“We see a lot of progress coming out of the Evart area,” he pointed out. “There are things happening here. This is a dynamic community.

“This is going to be a great facility for your city.

“From experience I know that one of the first things companies looking to relocate ask is “What is your airport like?”

“Business today moves fast. Having a great airport facility is a huge asset, and allows business and industry to expand.

“This will be tremendous for the Evart and Osceola community.”

State Senator Darwin Booher was also on hand in his home district, and hometown, and expressed his pleasure at finally seeing a proper terminal building in Evart.

“The expansion of this airport, and the potential it holds for the creation of business of job opportunities is great to see,” he said.

“We need to be ready for growth, and Evart is ready to grow its business and industry base.

“I believe we are in the process or turning around our state and making it a better place to live — for us, our children and our grandchildren.

“This project is an example of looking to the future — a better future for the people of this community.”

And with that ...

The ribbon was cut. The terminal building officially opened to the public.

And another plane landed another plane took off.

A fine day to fly. A great day to fly into Evart.