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Orange hopes terminal will spur economic growth
Officials dedicate new terminal building at Orange County Airport

 Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (far right) waits to speak at Saturday's airport terminal dedication.
ROBIN KNEPPER/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 5/16/2011

BY ROBIN KNEPPER

Saturday was too overcast and foggy for plane rides out of Orange County Airport, but there were no dampened spirits at the dedication and ribbon-cutting of its new terminal building.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling was the keynote speaker and offered his congratulations for "the wonderful new facility."

"Having a quality system of general-aviation airports across the state is a critical part of economic development, particularly in rural areas," he said.

"The vision that went into this effort will result in huge dividends in the future," he said. "Orange County is a great place and these facilities and investments make it even better."

Larry Omps, a board member of the Virginia Department of Aviation, spoke of his long association with the Orange County airport and the fast pace of recent milestones.

"The airport was built in 1946," he said, "but in the last six years there has been a runway rehab, a new apron, perimeter fencing, land acquisition, obstruction removal and, now, a new terminal.

"There are 62 airports in Virginia," he said, "and the Department of Aviation wants terminals in all of them."

Ray Matthews, chairman of the Orange County Airport Commission, gave thanks to the late Cliff Wolfe, former chairman of the commission, who ardently supported the airport and its growth. Many of Wolfe's family members were in attendance and Matthews thanked them for his efforts.

"I'm here to for the purpose of doing thank yous," he said.

He singled out County Administrator Julie Jordan and Kurt Hildebrand, the county's director of public works, for their hard work and support. Special thanks went to Airport Manager Buzz Jarrell.

He also thanked Hubert Compton, a former member of the Airport Commission, for the loan and display of 14 models of airplanes from the World War II and Korean War era that hang from the exposed rafters of the terminal building.

Lee Frame, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, emceed the event and was joined by Bolling in cutting the ribbon at the terminal entrance.

The enormous pair of ceremonial scissors used to do the deed had been delivered by Kevin Reynolds and Mario Ripa, instructors at SkyDive Orange.

Local vendors and entertainment were provided during the afternoon, but no plane rides were available because of the overcast weather.

Robin Knepper: 540/972-5701
Email: rknepper@earthlink.net


The Orange County Airport is a general-aviation airport with a runway length of 3,200 feet. It accommodates turboprop and propeller-driven aircraft of 12,500 pounds or less and is equipped with an Automated Weather Observation System (AWWOS-111) providing pilots with real-time weather data.

Construction of the 5,800-square-foot terminal began in September 2008, a county initiative to build a multi-purpose facility and focal point for greeting airport users.

It is an attraction for potential new businesses and visitors as well as commercial and private aviation.

The new terminal includes a passenger lounge, pilots' lounge, conference room, tourism kiosk and high-tech flight-planning room.

The airport is located three miles east of the town of Orange on State Route 20.

It offers public computer and a local Wi-Fi "hot spot," hangar rental, free overnight tie down, competitive fuel prices, access to rental cars and on-field aircraft maintenance and flight instruction.

Buzz Jarrell, the airport manager, can be reached at 540-672-2158.

--Robin Knepper