By Julia Roberts Goad
VARNEY — The culmination of a joint effort of public and private entities will be celebrated Friday when the Mingo County Airport Authority holds a grand opening of the Mingo County Air Transportation Park.
The newly constructed Air Transportation Park is the product of a public/private partnership among the Mingo County Airport Authority, Alpha Natural Resources, the Federal Aviation Administration, the WV Department of Transportation’s Aeronautics Commission, and the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority.
In April of 2008, Alpha Natural Resources conveyed the 975 acre site to Mingo County at zero cost to the taxpayers. As part of its post mine land use designation, Alpha constructed the site to rough grade in a configuration approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
To date, the Federal Aviation Administration, together with the WV Aeronautics Commission and the Mingo County Airport Authority, have completed in excess of $9 million worth of capital improvements for the construction of the runway, installation of wind instrumentation, lighting and perimeter fencing.
The Mingo County Air Transportation Park includes a 5,000’ runway and state-of-the-art design which will accommodate private, corporate and industrial aircraft.
“The Mingo County Airport Authority’s commitment to safety is first and foremost, and the opening of the new Air Transportation Park will greatly facilitate our commitment to the general aviation community, as well as opportunities for economic diversification,” said Leasha Johnson, Assistant Executive Director of MCRA.
The ceremony will be conducted on the new airport site, located at Oldfield Branch, near Varney, on WV Route 52/15, also known as Mystery Mountain Road.
Congressman Nick Joe Rahall, II will be the keynote speaker. Also scheduled to speak are representatives from the offices of Senator Joe Manchin, III and Senator John D. Rockefeller, IV, as well as state and local elected officials and representatives from the involved regulatory agencies.
“Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend this historic occasion, which will be concluded with an old fashioned cookout,” Johnson said. “Please join us on Friday, October 12 at 11a.m. as we celebrate another milestone toward an improved quality of life for all of Mingo County.”