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Historic hangar has friends

Published: Sep. 20, 2012 at 9:16 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2012 at 9:16 PM EDT
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County Administrator Gary Breedlove
County Administrator Gary Breedlove

BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) - A historic south Georgia landmark is getting a makeover, and it won't cost local taxpayers anything.

Decatur County is using state and federal grant money and a private donation to renovate a World War Two hangar at the county airport.

County leaders say the facelift will improve the look of the airport, preserve history, and boost the local economy.

The 28,000 square foot airport hangar has more than 70 years of history. Decatur County officials say now is the best time for a makeover.

"We could have postponed, but the problem with grant money in these times is if you postpone, the next fiscal year you may get that notification that we're sorry but that money has been reallocated to somebody who had the ability to take advantage of it at the time," said County Administrator Gary Breedlove.

Built in 1942, this airport hangar was once part of a World War II training facility. "Hundreds of airplanes sat out on this ramp and trained pilots for World War II combat."

County officials say once the hangar is completed, they plan to bring back pilots who trained here during World War II.

"We're starting to get information from people across the country who have ties to this World War II airbase and to other aspects of flying operations from the Bainbridge Airport," said Breedlove.

The county would need to match about four percent of the $250,000 grant, but a private citizen has offered to pay that difference.

"We have a tremendous opportunity right now of renovating this hangar, making it look like the front of a World War Two hangar, still usable and functional for parking and storing aircraft, with no cost to the county," said Breedlove.

Folks who work at the airport say once the hangar is renovated, it will be a great place to host fundraisers and other large events.

"Right now the inside isn't real pretty. It's dirty. A lot of stuff blows in and out, but I think once it is all done and cleaned out I think it can used for functions here at the airport also," said Airport Manager Jim Cerone.

And airport officials say even though many folks don't know the Bainbridge Airport exists, with the cheapest fuel in a 50 mile radius, they stay busy with flights.

The grants are coming from the FAA and DOT money set aside to improve small community airports.

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