RIO GRANDE COUNTY — For the past several months, Rio Grande County Commissioners, in partnership with Kent Rominger Airport Manager Earl Robinson, and the airport advisory board, have been working to install Jet A fuel tanks at the airport and the project will be nearing completion before the end of October.
According to Robinson, who gave an update to the board on Wednesday, Sept. 7, the summer has been busy, business is going well, and the new leasing program for some of the empty hangars has been successful.
“August has been a very good month as you’ve seen. Our lease program that was approved has been very successful. Out of the eight hangars that could be leased, seven have been leased. I am developing a want list for the remaining hangars that are north of the taxiway, so as far as the lease program goes, it was very timely,” said Robinson.
Robinson spoke about the demand for hangar space at the airport and how that demand showed the need for growth which is currently underway.
In the past two years, Robinson has been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation Aeronautics Division to secure three grants that will help with expansion and maintenance of the runways and the airport in general.
“The aeronautics division has expressed how much they really like this airport and they have shown it every year with generosity,” said Robinson.
In the next year, the airport will be expanding with a 450-foot taxiway, asphalt overlay on the 2010 runway and aid with the installation of jet fuel tanks that are scheduled to arrive by October.
“It’s amazing to be a part of this. The airport is a great complement to the Valley and neighboring airports. So much happens here that people just don’t see, and we want the community to know that we are working to make things even better,” said Robinson.
In February of this year, and after collecting data that showed high demand for Jet A fuel at the airport, Rio Grande County Commissioners approved funding to install a new turnkey fuel system at the airport.
“Once funding was approved, we put out a bid for proposals and chose a company out of Portland, Ore., that has made the fuel system for us. It is the exact twin to the fuel system used at the Alamosa airport and basically, it's like a new vacuum, all I have to do is plug it in,” laughed Robinson.
The massive 50,000-pound system will be delivered via truck in October and with the fuel comes the planes.
The airport is also home to Eagle Air, the local medical and emergency flight program. According to Robinson, 300 flights per year come and go out of the Kent Rominger Airport either taking patients to or from medical facilities or bringing in medical professionals that work to save the lives of San Luis Valley residents and guests.
“It’s an incredible activity that happens each year and the general public just isn’t aware of it,” Robinson said.
Robinson and the airport advisory board in partnership with the county have important things planned for the future of the airport and once the tanks are installed, there are plans to invite the public to the facility to see some of the work that is being done.
“The airport advisory board is made up of very knowledgeable and diverse members and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without their help,” said Robinson. “By this time next year, we could have over 50 resident planes housed at the airport, and it will be a sight to be seen.”