ALEXANDRIA, MINN. – Since 1988, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Minnesota DOT Office of Aeronautics have partnered in recognizing airports for their accomplishments in airport management, vision and innovation with the presentation of the “FAA/Governor’s Award.” This year’s award was presented to St. Cloud Regional Airport during the Minnesota Airports Conference, May 3-5, 2013, in Alexandria, Minnesota.
The City of St. Cloud chose the current location for St. Cloud Municipal Airport in 1969. Since 1990 when St. Cloud received its first FAA Governor’s Award, the airport has continued to flourish. In 1993, scheduled air service began. In 1995, the airport became St. Cloud Regional Airport and expanded its role to meet air transportation needs in the region.
Today, the City of St. Cloud works cooperatively with Benton, Stearns, and Sherborn Counties whose borders are all within the operational area of the airport.
In recent years the airport has completed numerous bituminous projects, acquired land for airport expansion, installed runway guard lights for airport safety, and has become the home of a Minnesota Air National Guard helicopter unit.
In the spring of 2009, the airport completed the expansion of the terminal building with its first passenger boarding bridge. Within a year of opening the new terminal, the community lost its commercial air service with the departure of Delta Airlines. Through the will of city leaders and the perseverance of airport director, Bill Towle, the airport was successful in attracting Allegiant Air to replace Delta.
The airport is now working with consultant Mead and Hunt in completing a master plan, reconstructing the crosswind runway, and constructing a large fixed base operation facility.
Accepting the award on behalf of the City of St. Cloud was airport director, Bill Towle.
“Airport Projects of the Year” presented during the conference on behalf of the Minnesota Council of Airports were Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport in the commercial service category for its renovation of its main terminal; Albert Lea Municipal Airport for its Runway 17/35 relocation and parallel taxiway projects in the non-commercial service category; and Blue Earth Municipal Airport was selected for its reconstruction of its existing 3,400 ft runway, connecting taxiway, and apron expansion in the intermediate category. Steven W. Leqve was recognized during the conference for 35 years in airport management at Rochester International Airport.
A native of Rochester, Minnesota, Leqve served in Viet Nam as a helicopter gunner for two years, and upon his discharge, he worked as a greeter at the Mayo Clinic. He was so good at being a greeter that in 1978, the Rochester Airport Company asked him to become assistant manager. He was named manager in 1991.
Among his many accomplish-ments at Rochester included establishing the airport as a point of entry for foreign aircraft to fly direct to Rochester; adding an air cargo facility; and creating a business and industrial park at the airport.
During his tenure, Leqve completed over 200 projects with a total value of $85 million. The current economic impact of the airport totals more than $161.5 million annually, supporting 2,900 jobs.
Rochester International Airport is owned by the City of Rochester and operated by the Rochester Airport Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Mayo Clinic. Marty Lenss, former director at Outagamie County Regional Airport, is the new manager.