Jefferson County Creating New Airport Department

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A new hangar is being built.

There are improvements to the taxiway improvements.

A longer runway is in the works.

All are signs of progress are everywhere at the Watertown International Airport.

But Jefferson County leaders aren't about to stop.

"It's just time to take it to the next level," said Barry Ormsby, chair of the County Legislature Airport Committee. 

They plan to take it to the next level by making making the airport its own county department and hiring an airport manager to give it full-time attention.

The airport really took off when it added commercial jet service from to Chicago.

Now, officials hope more emphasis on the airport will lead to even bigger and better things.

Officials say the steady stream of passengers and a longer runway will convince American Eagle that it's time to upgrade. 

"Whether it's gonna be a third flight, whether it's going to be a bigger aircraft, once we get to 7,000 feet, these are some of the questions that remain unanswered at this point," said Ormsby.

Since the county took over the airport about a decade ago, it has been run by the county highway department.

But not much longer.

"We've seen many improvements there and actually it's grown so much that's why they felt it should be a separate department," said Highway Superintendent Jim Lawrence. 

The new airport manager should be on board and heading up the new airport department in two or three months.

Sunday, November 23, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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