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City approves new airport terminal design
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Construction on a $1.53 million terminal building at the Covington Municipal Airport could start this summer after the Covington City Council approved a final design Monday.

The 5,500 square foot design was created by the LPA Group, based on the recommendations of a committee of local community and aviation officials. The building is smaller than initially planned and will not contain a restaurant after committee members decided it wasn't necessary or practical.

The building will contain a large conference/training room for 20 to 30, a small conference room for 10 to 12 people with presentation capabilities, a kitchen, a pilot's lounge, restrooms, a waiting area and other offices. The building will also come with new access off Nisshinbo Drive off Ga. Highway 142.

Now that a design has been approved, Airport Engineer Vincent Passariello said Thursday the city will officially apply for a $500,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. City officials are confident they'll get the grant as they've been talking to the state about the project for a couple of years.

The remaining cost of the terminal building will be covered by $500,000 in 2011 SPLOST money as well as money from the city's general fund. However, the one-cent transportation SPLOST will be voted on in the July primary and, if approved, also has money budgeted for airport improvements that could be used for the terminal building, Passariello said.

"I'm pretty happy that everything went smoothly. I want to personally thank the committee for their support and their work. They were very involved, took the project very seriously and put good effort and time into the design," said Passariello, who also thanked the council for giving him the latitude to form a committee.

One of the committee members was Roger Harrison, the top economic development recruiter at the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

"We here at the Office of Economic Development are extremely excited about the new terminal. I was grateful to be asked to serve on the design committee, and I believe the resulting building will be a tremendous economic development asset for this community," Harrison said. "Additionally, the easy access from Nisshinbo Drive puts the new building just minutes from most of our major industries. I am looking forward to seeing this plan come to fruition."