Leaders turn out for airport expansion

By Corene Brisendine

Manhattan got to take a bow Friday morning.

Several state and community leaders turned out to applaud the expansion of Manhattan Regional Airport during the official groundbreaking ceremony.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran congratulated the community for making MHK the second busiest and the fastest growing airport in the state.

He also said he was happy to be at the ceremony as a community member rather than just a congressman.

“I come today not as an outsider, but as a resident, who chose — in part —because of the airport and the opportunities it presents to us and to others,” he said.

Mayor John Matta said the expansion of the airport was another “obvious reason [Manhattan] is the fastest growing community in the region.”

Other community leaders who attended and and expressed excitement about the expansion included Rep. Sydney Carlin, D-Manhattan, Riley County commissioner Bob Boyd, city commissioner Rich Jankovich, Fort Riley garrison commander Col. Andrew Cole Jr., and president of the Chamber of Commerce Lyle Butler.

Airport director Peter VanKuren told The Mercury that construction on the expansion should begin immediately.

Crews have until August 2014 to complete the first phase of the expansion, which is budgeted to cost about $9.8 million. Of that amount, $7.8 million will be covered by a grant through the FAA.

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