JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS) — It’s a county airport that’s been a big part of a mid-Michigan community for decades.
Friday morning, Jackson celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Jackson County Airport, and also looked to the future.
Hundreds of people gathered in a hangar at the airport to mark the 90th anniversary of the airport.
“The community support was really evident by our turnout today, we had 300 people here,” said Airport Manager Kent Maurer.
Maurer says the airport is very important to Jackson, bringing around $30 million a year in business to the area.
They want to make sure the airport is around for another 90 years.
A new runway was also dedicated at Friday’s event.
It cost $50 million and took nearly a decade to build.
“The alternative were that the safety areas would be shortened, and we would not be able to have corporate aircraft come and go like we do now, and that’s so important for the airport,” Maurer said.
The anniversary and runway dedication weren’t the only milestones celebrated.
Maurer is retiring, clearing the runway for a new manager.
Maurer was an officer with the Jackson Police Department for 27 years, and then worked for 16 years as the airport manager.
He’s served the community for a combined 43 years.
“I feel blessed that I was able to have really two public careers,” Maurer said.
The incoming manager, Juan Zapata, is a former U.S. Navy pilot who comes from the Michigan Department of Transportation, where he was an airport inspector.
“It’s such a great experience. I am honored to be here. We’re going to start with the development of the area for business uses. So we’ve got a lot of marketing to do,” Zapata said.
The outgoing airport manager says the sky’s the limit.
“It’s a piece of infrastructure that Jackson can be proud of,” Maurer said.