The Liberty Gazette
May 13, 2008
May 13, 2008
The View From Up Here
By Mike Ely and Linda Street Ely
Linda: The 26th annual Texas Department of Transportation-Aviation Division conference had record attendance this year in Austin. Mike was working so I went solo this time. The state’s Aviation division sets up workshops and has top-notch speakers for the three-day event. It’s also a great place for aviation businesses to hock their wares and a time for buyers to get a good deal.
Beginning with a golf tournament and ending with a banquet, lots of information sharing in-between, conference attendees had a great time learning and networking. Several friends invited me to join them at their table during the banquet but not wanting to pass up the opportunity to network, I chose instead a table where I knew no one. My new acquaintances introduced themselves – they were all from Temple and actually took up two large tables. I was sitting with the mayor, mayor pro tem, a couple of council members, the airport manager, and her husband.
The state gives out awards every year including Airport of the Year, Most Improved Airport, and Airport Manager of the Year. It’s always fun to see who wins and hear the stories of how hard they’ve worked to earn such status. Temple’s Mayor, Bill Jones, told me their airport is very valuable to the city and its economic impact on the area is crucial to the town’s success. Having met other mayors, commissioners, city council members and others from cities around Texas during the conference, I expressed my appreciation for Mayor Jones’s enthusiastic support and clear understanding of their airport. “An airport is a huge asset,” was his reply, which is reflected in their statement of purpose: “To provide a safe, efficient aviation facility capable of meeting the business transportation needs of the region and supporting economic growth in Temple; To provide high quality services for the corporate, medical and general aviation pilots.” It was no surprise then, that my tablemates, representing Draughon-Miller Central Texas Regional Airport, were winners of the 2008 Airport of the Year. Run efficiently and successfully by Sharon Rostovich for several years now, the airport’s anticipated revenue this year is $2,208,394. Economic output will be many times that.
Mike: Last year’s state aviation conference was outstanding, and it sounds like this year’s was even better. It was unfortunate that I wasn’t free to attend. It is obvious Linda and I share a passion for all things related to flying. We also see great value in what aviation can do for our community and country. That is why we promote it so heavily. There are a number of grant sources specifically for the development of the airport system in Texas. This conference Linda attended, as did Avon Moore for the City of Liberty, is where a lot of information can be found that is useful to communities and helpful in the development of their airports. An airport is as important to a community’s economic well-being as the highways and by-ways running through it.
Mike and Linda can be reached at Texasavi8r@aol.com.