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Plattsburgh International takes flight

PLATTSBURGH Despite the overcast skies and periods of rain, the future of Plattsburgh International Airport shown brightly during the grand opening ceremonies last Friday. Nothing could be sunnier than the inside of this building today, said James Jimmy Langley chairman of the Clinton County Legislature. Langely and the entire legislative body were joined by PIA committee chair Dr. Robert W. Heins, Congressman John M. McHugh, representatives for both Sen. Charles Schumer and Gov. Elliot Spitzer, Senator Elizabeth Betty Little, Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, and about 400 guests to celebrate the completion of the $12 million project. Although the committee realized building the new facility was a huge gamble, it was one they felt they had to take. While they have yet to attract any airlines, there is room for three, according to Langely, who is hopeful the facility will be operating by July. Langely thanked the many local businesses and citizens that came forward with contributions for the Take off Fund. The goal was to raise $200,000 to be used to attract passenger air service to come aboard. Is this a first class facility or what? said Heins of the 32,000 square-foot airport terminal. The airport, with a 12,000-foot runway, 12 million square-foot ramp for parking, staging aircraft and handling cargo, and 1.5 million square feet of industrial space, is capable of handling all types of aviation. It also provides opportunities for aircraft maintenance, cargo and distribution and assembly and manufacturing companies. He said they wanted a handsome facility with an open-air feeling and a great view of the mountains, and one that would allow for expansion, and we have that. The project, which has evolved over the past five years, was made possible with nearly $30 million in federal funding. Langely described the airport as a gift from Washington. The county share in all of this is 2.5 percent, he said with a smile. PIA was not just built to serve Plattsburgh and Clinton County, according to Heins; it can also draw in people from Franklin and Essex counties and more importantly, Canadians too. He recalled a time when the City Beach area was crawling with Canadians, and is hoping that prosperity will return once again. Notice the bilingual signage, he said. Congressman McHugh said that never, in his wildest dreams, did he ever expect such a beautiful airport terminal to be built in Plattsburgh. Today, right now, is where tomorrow begins! He said PIA brings new greatness, new opportunity and new pride to the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base, which in its heyday had played an important role in the U.S. global air defense for some 40 years prior to its closure. NYS Assemblywoman Janet Duprey commended the County Legislature for their decision to develop the airport rather than enter into a management contract with Precision Jet in 2004. Duprey saluted the legislature for their unity, strength, courage and determination in making the dream of a new international airport a reality.

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