The chairman of the airport board, Ray Miller, said there have been $20 million worth of improvements, expansions and additions at the airport in the past 10 years, and without Preuitt’s help most of it wouldn’t have been done.
A great deal of the funding came through federal grants, which require local matching funds.
As a legislator, Preuitt worked to keep the Alabama Department of Aeronautics funded to help local airports, and often providing those matches.
Preuitt had a vision for how the airport could become a critical part of the area’s industrial future. He worked to help the board get the airport property and entranceways cleaned up, made introductions and wrote letters to Washington to help the board secure funding for projects, and advised the board on how to help get legislation passed in Montgomery.
The board dedicated a recently refurbished water tower to Preuitt, and credited him with helping to save it from being condemned. About $200,000 was needed for the job, and Preuitt helped the board get the funds they needed to do the job. It had been an eyesore that showed up on TV screens of everyone who tuned in to watch a NASCAR race at the speedway next to the track. Now the airport board is getting $15,000 per year in advertising revenue from the Coca-Cola company for having their logo on the tower, and about twice that from a cell phone tower lease on top of it.
A permanent sign honoring Preuitt will receive prominent placement in recognition of his work.
Miller noted that with state and federal funding and the board’s income from operations, the city of Talladega hasn’t had to put up the first penny for improvements over the past 10 years.
An Instrument Landing System is operational, since there is no permanently manned tower at the airport. Hangars have been added, and a cargo apron is being built. Taxiways and runways have been upgraded, and plans call for extensions to accommodate larger aircraft. The airport is one of the busiest in the nation on race weekends, and it is seeing increasing use for transporting cargo to meet the needs of industries in the area.
The airport board has made considerable progress, and we’re please to see them give credit where credit is due in honoring Jim Preuitt and his years of public service.