By William Holloman
A small crowd of well wishers and dignitaries on the local and state level watched the dirt move in a construction kickoff groundbreaking for the $1.5 million corporate aircraft hangar at the local airport. More than a year of effort was involved in planning and financing the project.
Mount Olive Mayor Ray McDonald, Sr. looked across the area and told those on hand what he saw was once nothing but a field and a strip of grass, which had become a major player in the local and county economy. “I know, because I see the figures in dollars this airport today generates,” he said.
Town commissioner Joe Scott echoed the Mayor’s comments. “This is a clear indication that Mount Olive is growing.”
The project should be completed within six months and will feature a 100’x100’ facility to house corporate aircraft, as well as other features, including office space. It is being constructed on the south end of the current airport property. Daniels and Daniels Construction Company of Goldsboro is the major contractor.
Mayor McDonald said the economics of the airport are important to Mount Olive and southern Wayne County. McDonald also said one of the reasons the airport is such a success today is because of the aviation mechanic Mike Bass, who runs the airport. “We realized early on his expertise in aviation maintenance and keeping him here has meant it all with our growth,” said the Mayor. “He is probably the best thing that has ever happened to this airport.”
Mayor McDonald remembered when the effort to construct an airport began, back in the 60’s, thanks to a handful of people who were “not to be denied.” He named three former Wayne County Commissioners of that day and Mount Olive’s Mark Cherry. “But, the story that is next to my heart is the people who have served on this airport board over the years. They never lost sight of this day happening.
“We are here to dedicate all those efforts.”