The small town of Washington is getting a third of a million dollars to improve its airport. Mike Roe, chairman of the airport commission, says it’s a general-aviation airport — you can’t buy a ticket to fly there, but it’s by no means a slow place. They have business aircraft flying in and out from small four-place airplanes to 30-thousand-pound jets. Roe says the federal grant will be used to expand the “ramp” where planes refuel, taxi to and from hangars, and are parked and tied down. The corporate aircraft are getting bigger, says Roe, and they have to “grow” the airport to meet their need for space. As a businessman in Washington himself, Roe says he understands the importance of small airports to cities in Iowa. It’s pretty much a given that if you don’t have an airport, Roe says, your town’s hampered — and he says “businesses flies,” it doesn’t depend only on driving access to a town. Roe says the town of Washington is “very tight with our money,” and likes to leverage taxpayer dollars to build more assets at the airport as well as get the most public use out of it, and as examples he says high school soccer is now being played on the airport grounds and local groups are welcome to use the city’s heated, lighted hangar for pancake dinners. In 2004, Washington will host the annual “Fly Iowa” aviation event and airshow.
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