The new terminal at the Lebanon Municipal Airport received a kickoff Friday, as work is set to begin on the new gateway into the community.
“We have truly come a long way with the realization of this dream. Given the way the economy has grown, this is one of the best ways to display our future for the City of Lebanon,” said Heather Bay, Lebanon Municipal Airport manager.
“Between now and 2017 there is a lot of work to do,” she said.
The new terminal would be two stories and would feature a large reception area, operator’s office, airport commission room, quiet rooms for pilots, conference rooms designed to hold public or private meetings and at least three offices.
Bay thanked several parties involved in the process of building the new terminal, including Lebanon Airport Commission chairman T.O. Cragwall, who she called her mentor.
“He’s dedicated the last 10 years of his life to this terminal, and it would not have happened without his due diligence,” she said. “Mr. Cragwall, I must thank you. Your efforts are appreciated.”
Cragwall said several parties played a part in bringing his dream to its current point.
“I don’t want the attention put on me as much as I do all the people who have been a part of making this happen. Mike Manous said something a while ago that stuck with me. ‘This is the end of the beginning,’ Mike said. All of these plans started with a dream, progressed along and brought us to this point and time,” Cragwall said. “As we throw a little dirt, the project begins for real. I’m excited about that. Yes, I’ve had dreams of this actually longer than the 10 years.”
Bay and Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead spoke about Joe Hayes, who died earlier this month, and his dedication to the airport, which Cragwall summarized in his statements. Hayes, councilor for more than 20 years, was a longtime member of the Lebanon Airport Commission.
“I, too, want to echo what’s been said about Joe Hayes. I went to school with Joe. I’ve known Joe all my life. I was excited when Joe became a member of the airport commission,” Cragwall said.
“There are countless times, although Joe was the quiet one, where I’d pull him to the side and ask, ‘Joe, what do you think?’ Joe always had the kind of advice that made a difference. We’re going to miss him. The Mayor and council now have the responsibility of choosing someone to replace Joe. That’s going to be a hard job. I want to be mindful of what he’s done for this group.”
Cragwall and Craighead also discussed the potential for the airport with the new terminal building.
“Lebanon is now the fourth largest general aviation airport in the state of Tennessee in terms of airplanes. I truly believe this is going to enable us to become a premiere airport in the state of Tennessee,” Cragwall said.
“We feel like it’s going to be the opening of our new gateway into the community,” Craighead said. “The grand vision one day is to have a driveway from [Hartmann Drive] right up to the terminal. There are a lot more ideas and projects to do.”
Last year, Cragwall said the estimated cost of the project is around $2 million, which is about $500,000 lower than the initial estimated cost.