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Ribbon for new terminal cut at airport

Gov. Haley Barbour helped cut the ribbon on a new terminal building at Picayune’s airport that can accommodate incoming business travelers, possibly promoting more business and industry to the city and county.

Plans for the new terminal were set in motion before Hurricane Katrina tore through the city and left the temporary trailer terminal torn apart.

“The paper work for the new facility started before the storm, (thought) of course we were set back considerably,” said Airport Manager Ken Donald.

The finishing touches were completed Wednesday with the installation of furniture, Donald said.

Picayune’s is the first high and dry airport coming from the Gulf Coast. During the storm, many planes from the gulf coast were stored at the site, Donald said.

“Instead of evacuating aircraft from here, people evacuated and stored theirs here,” Donald said.

About 45 aircraft were stored at the site during the storm, but by the end of the year, the site will be able to store twice that amount with the addition of three new commercial hangars, and 16 public use T hangars, he said.

Donald said part of the success of the airport goes to Gene Phillips.

“He’s a vital part of our airport,” Donald said.

Phillips is a fixed base operator who provides maintenance and service to aircraft coming and going at the airport, Donald said.

The new terminal will provide a comfortable place for business people who fly into Picayune who may be looking to relocate, or it can be used for various kinds of meetings such as Federal Aviation Administration safety meetings, Donald said. In addition the facility could cater to all kinds of civic activities, he said.

“We have a first class meeting room here,” Donald said.

Numerous city and county officials were in attendance to help Barbour cut the ribbon on the terminal building.

“Transportation is a very big part of economic vitality,” Barbour said in his speech at the event.

One of the things Barbour mentioned about the vitality of Mississippians is their character.

“Calamity or catastrophe does not create character, character is revealed by catastrophe,” Barbour said.

Part of that character was evident in the way the people of Mississippi handled themselves after the storm in the same manner that the terror attack in New York on Sept. 11, 2001, proved the character of the people in that state, Barbour said.

“People that may have had a negative view of us … saw Mississippians (are) self reliant instead of looking for a handout,” Barbour said.