Dickinson qualifies for airport funds

By JIM ANDERSON

News Editor

IRON MOUNTAIN – Boosted by the addition of air ambulance flights, Dickinson County has squeezed past the threshold to qualify for $1 million in Airport Improvement Program funds.

Airports exceeding 10,000 annual passenger boardings are classified as primary airports under the Federal Aviation Administration’s infrastructure program. The 2013 total for Dickinson’s Ford Airport was 10,318, County Controller Nicole Frost reported Monday at a meeting of the county board.

The bulk of Ford’s enplanements are through SkyWest Airlines, which provides Delta Connection commercial flights to Minneapolis. Those boardings fell 840 short of the 10,000-passenger threshold, said Frost.

The addition of medical flights and charter flights put the Kingsford airport over the top. The deciding factor was approval to include regional air ambulance flights provided by Integrated First Response-Great Lakes, which has housed an air ambulance at Ford since October 2012.

Dickinson County failed to meet the Airport Improvement Program threshold in 2012, but did qualify in 2011. Otherwise, the airport had been below 10,000 boardings since 1995.

“It will take some time to get to it,” Frost said of the $1 million award, noting it depends on the federal budget calendar. The county is “still spending down” the award from 2011, she said.

Examples of eligible projects include runway or taxiway construction or rehabilitation, lighting, signage or drainage, or other improvements related to enhancing airport safety, capacity or security.

In other action Monday, the county board:

– Heard Commissioner Barbara Kramer report that deliverable fuel assistance is available to income-eligible households through the Dickinson-Iron Community Services Agency. About $145,000 is available for disbursement in each county. To qualify, a household must be within 60 percent of the state median income. The program is open to those who meet the income guidelines for the last 30 days. Telephone numbers for the agency are 1-800-211-1696 or (906) 774-2256.

– Approved a request from Michigan State University-Extension to pay 4-H Camp Molinare property and liability insurance for the upcoming year at a cost of $3,916.

– Approved a request from the Masters Racing Circuit to use the area to the west of the Pine Mountain ski jump landing hill for a snowmobile hill climb event on Saturday, March 1. Masters President Skip Schulz of Ontonagon said the circuit has an exceptional safety record and the Pine Mountain event could one day be among the best in the Midwest. The county’s authorization is subject to several stipulations, including proof of insurance and assurances that the property be returned to its original condition should any damage occur.

– Appointed Jeff DeRidder, Scott Nowack and Joseph Sparpana to three-year terms on the Dickinson County Planning Commission. A vacancy for a partial term remains.

– Appointed Ralph Kramer to fill a vacancy on the Western U.P. Substance Abuse Services board.

– Appointed Rob Barkle, David A. Farragh, John Gunville and Dean P. Larson to three-year terms on the Dickinson County Fair Board. James P. Dziedzic also applied.

– Noted that a vacancy remains on the Northpointe Behavioral Healthcare Systems board, as no applications were received.

Jim Anderson’s email address is janderson@ironmountaindailynews.com