Covering Dale County: Ozark Celebrates Airport Project

A $30 million upgrade to the Ozark airport is nearly complete. It is a project more than a decade in the making, and the new runway is giving a lift to Ozark's existing economy.

A recently completed expansion means Ozark's runway is now nearly a mile long, a thousand feet longer than before.

Mayor Bob Bunting says, "We can take all corporate jets and some larger jets on an occasional basis."

The project also included repairs to the taxiway, new hangers, and a new $1.5 million fire suppression system.

It didn't come easy, however, Mayor Bunting remembers trying to buy out the 32 pieces of private property needed for the expansion.

Bunting says, "Anytime you do a buyout, you have got people who are unhappy. Fortunately, we only had one person for whom we had to do a condemnation. "

The project is not only good news for the city, but for neighboring U.S. Helicopter, one of the city's largest employers and for Enterprise Ozark Community College, which is building its own new facility to house an aviation training program.

Mayor Bunting says it will all lead to more local jobs in the aviation industry, which can only help Ozark's economy grow.

The project will be officially finished as soon as crews remove a few trees at the end of the runway to ensure proper visibility.

Reporter: Mark Bullock