The Liberty Gazette
June 23, 2015Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: The color of a front door is known to convey a certain type of message. A red front door means "welcome" in many cultures, including our own early American tradition, where tired travelers would know the home was a place where they would be welcomed to stop and spend the night or rest. Without color, how can a front door show signs of welcoming?
Often claiming space on this page are the words, "An airport is a community’s front door." Nothing could be more true than to say that Liberty has enjoyed the benefits of having Jose Doblado and Debbie Mabery as caretakers of our front door for the past three years.
The importance of the front door is understood throughout the country. The Robertson County Chamber of Commerce touts their airport as serving industry, calling it "our ‘front door’ one of the best in the state of Tennessee." When folks in Hall County, Nebraska committed to improving their airport, they gave it a new identity: "It’s becoming a real front door of Grand Island." In small towns and big ones all over the country there are airports, and they are there even for people who don’t fly.
You can search the archives of this column at www.ElyAirLines.blogspot.com, for stories about how airports create jobs and income, save lives, help enforce laws, and provide a destination for passengers, freight, and potential business investments. Our very own Liberty Municipal Airport, with its humble beginnings as a grass strip built by Benny Rusk and Earl Atkins is today one of our city’s principal resources because what the airport does best is serve people who don’t fly.
The complex study commissioned every few years by the Texas Department of Transportation lists important facts about economic impact of public-use airports in the state. Analysis is made considering operating characteristics, such as airport employment, and take-offs and landings, as well as population density. Key operating expenditure estimates on a per-flight operation basis is then calculated to provide additional data, with a multiplier figured in to come up with the economic impact the airport has. While the figures that will reflect the tremendous contributions of Jose and Debbie are yet to be published, before they came to Liberty the airport was generating approximately $1.4 million in economic activity. No doubt we will see a sharp rise in that figure when the same analysis is made for the years 2012 to 2015.
Your airport, which Jose Doblado has managed, and Debbie Mabery has volunteered countless hours to improve can be a key factor in the decision of business leaders – those who provide valuable local employment – to locate in the area. As a vital part of our local economy, this piece of land is the first impression of the city when a prospective industry official lands, enters the terminal building, and is greeted by someone. The next person to take on this job will likewise represent the City of Liberty; will be that face that greets people at the "front door". That person will need to work with TxDOT and the FAA, with visiting and local pilots, with vendors of fuel and other services, with repair companies and engineers, with local emergency service providers, and the local communities which the airport serves. The bar has been raised.
We encourage you to visit your airport. You can park just a few steps from the door to the small building, you won’t have to show your government-issued identification, take off your shoes, be X-rayed or patted down. You might even catch some of the hangar tenants hosting an informal get-together, and be invited to see small airplanes up close.