Updated Laurens County Airport terminal planned with CPST funds

For a link explaining all the county’s proposed CPST projects,  go to https://www.yestoinvestlc.com.

Oct. 14, 2020

Both visits to the Laurens County Airport and revenue increased quickly after the airport installed a pay-at-pump fuel system several years ago.For a link to all the CPST projects go to
https://www.yestoinvestlc.com. Photo by Judith Brown

Laurens, SC – The Laurens County Airport Commission is
hoping funds from the Capital Project Sales Tax will help with crucial upgrades and provide a much more welcoming entrance for the many industrial leaders and others who fly into Laurens County.

The Capital Project Sales Tax proposal set forth by the Laurens County Airport Commission has
requested $500,000 which would go toward the estimated $1.3 million cost of a new airport terminal. The remaining funds are coming from matching grants by the Federal Aviation Agency which covers 90 percent of a 90/10 percent matching grant, and the South Carolina Aeronautical Agency which offers a 50 percent matching grant.

This 3,000 square foot terminal building would replace the current 1,800-square-foot building which has served as the airport terminal since 1981, said Sammy Wham, a former chair of the Laurens County Airport Commission.

“Welcome centers are important and the airport is also a welcome station for pilots and passengers coming into the county,” Wham said.

Wham and LC Airport Commission chairman Rick Snipes said the needed improvements to the Laurens County Airport are very much tied into economic development in Laurens County.

Appearances matter, Wham said, and an airport which meets the needs of pilots and businessmen using the airport can make a great impression on the people who can make a difference in the county.

“It will have nicer facilities,” Wham said. “It will help level the field with nearby airports like Anderson, Pickens, Greenwood and Spartanburg.”

Snipes said it’s important to continue making improvements because the airport gets a great deal of use from military aircraft, as well as personal and corporate planes and small jets. Because the local airports receive funding from the FAA and the SC Aeronautics Commission, the local airports are expected to stay up to date, he said.

The new 3,000 square foot terminal for Laurens County Airport will be based on the same design as one recently built in Berkeley County, a rural county airport in the Lowcountry. Photo provided

This new structure will include more space for airport operations, rooms for pilot planning and training, a public lobby and restrooms and a nice conference room that could be used for visiting businessmen or for pilots.

The Laurens County Airport has already benefited from numerous matching grants and funding from the FAA and the State Aeronautics Commission, often requiring minimal matching funds from Laurens County. Prior development projects include the addition of a taxiway, a runway extension, major upgrade and replacement of airport pavement with concrete, a new 10 unit T-hangar, an automated weather observation station, instrument approaches and a pay-at-pump fuel system.

The automated weather observation station (AWOS)  is a service offered to the county residents year round. Provided and maintained by the FAA, it’s available for the public by calling 864-682- 3639.

The runway extension from years ago allowed small corporate jets to land and take off from the Laurens County Airport, and the commission hopes to soon install a Jet-A fuel station in the future that would service the corporate jets which use the runway on a regular basis.

Other imminent projects include a new lighting system which is needed because of its age, Wham said, and the FAA will pitch in to cover 98 percent of the cost, requiring Laurens County to only cover two percent.

But for now, the new terminal is at the forefront of the airport’s needs.

“An airport provides a critical part of the transportation network needed to recruit industry which adds to the economic vitality of a community,” said James Stephens, the director of the SC Aeronautics Commission. “Often the industries that are being recruited utilize private aviation as a method to manage their own staff time which adds to the overall productivity of the respective companies.”

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