Alpena County Regional Airport is thriving. Since SkyWest Airlines assumed the role as air service provider, the airport has seen a significant increase in enplanements. The airport also is having minor construction done to improve the customer experience.
On Tuesday, Commissioner Tom Mullaney updated the other commissioners on the airport and the county's effort to work with other entities to capture one of six "Center of Excellence" for drone testing and training at the facility.
Mullaney said the airport has made big strides in the amount of use it has seen over the last year and he is pleased with the reception SkyWest has received from the people of Northeast Michigan.
"We're very pleasantly surprised at how well the airport is doing. Before we had service that wasn't very reliable, and now that SkyWest has come in and proved they're reliable, people have caught on to that fact," Mullaney said. "It was one of those things where we wished for the best and so far it has happened. We couldn't be more happy."
Mullaney said he believes the number of enplanements will remain strong and the number of enplanements could lead to more flights out of Alpena.
"In some of the side-bar talks we had with them it was discussed that if more people used the airport then there could be another flight," Mullaney said. "I think it is getting to the point where things are solidified and we're very happy."
Mullaney also informed the board about a special media event that will be held in Alpena regarding the Center of Excellence. He said media members from Lansing and Detroit will be brought to Alpena and shown around so they can see why Alpena makes sense as a location for the unmanned aircraft business. He said the press and the public might even be able to see an unmanned aircraft in action.
"It will be an introduction of the Alpena area, the airport, the base and the field out there," Mullaney said. "We'll have some demonstrations, which might include some unmanned aircrafts. We want to introduce this to the larger media, because we're still sort of an unknown commodity and secret we want to have some larger media hear so we can get some more exposure through the state and maybe the national media will pick up on it."
Mullaney said more details will be released as the event nears.
In other business:
> the commissioners voted to hold a public meeting to have a pair of millage requests by the Alpena County George N. Fletcher Library put on the November election ballot.
A county policy set the limit of years on a millage at four years, but the library renewal millage request is for 10 years and the second request is for five years. The commissioners want more input from the public on the matter. The hearing will take place before the next regular meeting on July 30.
> the commissioners voted to appoint Mark Hunter to the Alpena County Planning Commission.
> the board approved a request for Judge Michael Mack to put a plaque up outside the Circuit Court entrance to recognize Frank Kelley, who is an Alpena native and served as attorney general for the State of Michigan.
Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review ... at www.thealpenanews.com.