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Bemidji Regional Airport: Federal grant finishes rescue station project

A federal grant was recently awarded to the Bemidji Regional Airport to complete renovation of its fire rescue station.

The $157,923 grant is part of the effort to expand and renovate the airport's aircraft rescue and firefighting building adjacent to the terminal building, which is also undergoing an expansion and renovation project.

The grant will be distributed by the Federal Aviation Administration through the Department of Transportation, said U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, SFL-Minn., who announced the grant.

"Thousands of Minnesotans rely on regional airports each year to stay connected to the world," Klobuchar said in a statement. "Investing in our airport infrastructure will help ensure that our airports continue to be among the safest and most reliable in the country."

The funds expanded the aircraft rescue and firefighting building to provide adequate storage space for existing equipment. It will also upgrade the sanitary and storm sewer systems at the terminal building.

Klobuchar serves on the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security.

The entire airport terminal and ARFF building is a $9 million project, according Bemidji Regional Airport Authority Executive Director Harold Van Leeuwen. It involves about 11 federal grants from airport improvement funds spaced out over several years, with the latest grant paying off construction of the AARF facility.

More project funds is expected when Congress approves an FAA reauthorization bill, now pending.

In all, said Van Leeuwen, about 89 percent of the project costs will come from the federal grants and 11 percent from local matching funds gained from passenger facility fees that passengers pay for flying in and out of the Bemidji airport.