After breaking ground for the new Buc-ee’s Travel Center at the Duncannon Exit on I-75, Governor Andy Beshear stayed in town to help recognize a new partnership.
Down the road, at the Madison County Regional Airport, Beshear, State Rep. Deanna Frazier, officials with Madison County, the airport, and EKU made official their partnership to help run and maintain the regional airport.
According to EKU President David McFaddin, the EKU Aviation Program of nearly 320 students has seen “exponential growth,” and expects it to grow more with the slow return of in-person instruction.
Because of this, both university officials and legislators have made a significant investment in the future of the regional airport — owned by the three governments in Madison County — in efforts to become the fourth partner and expand their aviation program.
Previously, the airport board, who makes decisions on behalf of the facility, only had the representatives from the three governments. However, with new approved legislation, public universities can now have equal partnership with municipalities in order to make decisions as the facility’s fixed-based operator.
On Tuesday, the four-fold partnership was recognized by the highest office in Kentucky when Beshear signed a bill at the airport doing so.
“What a great day to be Madison Countians. We were pleased to be on site to join in celebrating the arrival of Buccee’s to the Duncannon exit followed by the Governor’s bill signing at the Central Kentucky Regional Airport recognizing legislation sponsored by Rep. Deanna Frazier adding EKU to the Board. Congratulations to everyone that made these exciting things happen for Madison County,” a post read on the county’s Facebook page.
Rep. Deanna Frazier, was also excited about the bill signing.
“This bill will strengthen the partnership between Eastern Kentucky University and Central Kentucky Regional Airport and make way for a flight training center at the regional facility,” she said. “HB 158 will help attract much needed talent at these schools and I was honored to be a part of this ceremonially signing today. Currently, Eastern Kentucky University has 320 aviation majors. The aviation program at EKU is the only program of its kind in the state of Kentucky and is yet another much needed economic driving force for our region.”
From here, President McFaddin explained all bodies could then amend their interlocal agreements to allow EKU to become the fourth partner, and make the capital investment at the airport facility.
Once passed, EKU would be able to also have two representative members on the county airport board creating four equal partners.
“Today is an example of what happens when collaboration and partnership combine to move our community forward. EKU is proud of our partnership with Richmond, Berea, and Madison County, and the new relationship we are jointly entering into with Central Kentucky Regional Airport. House Bill 158 allows EKU to become an equal partner in the airport as our flight program continues to reach new heights,” EKU President Dr. David McFaddin said.”With just over 300 flight students and 23 aircraft, EKU Aviation continues to set records. In March we completed 968 flight events, logged 1,472 flight hours and purchased 9,849 gallons of fuel. Thanks to an historic investment from the Kentucky General Assembly last year, we are working to grow the EKU fleet to 30 aircraft, and we will soon move forward on a state-of-the-art flight training facility right here at Central Kentucky Regional Airport.”